Austin still feels like home
Greetings from Oklahoma City!
The good news: my car was able to be repaired from the accident a couple weeks ago and I am once again back on the road. Woot! I was fortunate to be in Austin waiting for my car to get fixed—and being in ATX was definitely a treat.
The best part of being in Austin was the realization that I very much still have a community I love and care about back in that town. I was significantly slowed down because I didn't have wheels for most of my time there—but was still able to connect with some old friends and walk around and absorb the Austin scene once more (so much has changed, but a lot has remained the same).
In fact, I ran into a couple of people I knew from the UT days just by being out and about. That is something I have truly missed—it was great to be in a spot where a number of people knew my name.
Moving on to the Midwest—and damn, this country is big
And the next leg of Attorney on the Move has begun. I will be traveling through the Great Plains through the remainder of this week and landing in Minneapolis (from 6/3 - 6/10) and ultimately in Chicago (from 6/12 - 7/5). A big thank you to my friends and hosts from here in Oklahoma through Chicago who are very graciously letting me crash with them while I work in this part of this country. I am super appreciative to you all.
I am also awestruck at how vast and expansive the United States really is.
I was reflecting with a friend in Texas about how I have been on the road for 11 months now, and have just about covered half-ish of the country. And how throughout all of the project stops I have made, it feels like I am in these individual countries within a huge one.
There are similarities, though: California's Central Valley feels similar to certain parts of rural Texas/Oklahoma. Progressive communities like Portland can be somewhat replicated in smaller yet similarly vibrant urban areas such as Tucson and Albuquerque. The vast beauty and isolation of northern Montana resonates with that of the Four Corners.
This land was made for... who?
And already in the short time that I've left Texas, I have noticed the continual theme that runs throughout every other part of America: a history built on oppression.
I learned more about the Trail of Tears and forced relocation of many Native American nations to present-day Oklahoma. The removal and assimilation that occurred here strikes a chord within me as I think about my earlier stops in Montana and Northern Arizona.
Although I have been focusing on immigration detention work these last few months, learning about some of the history here in Oklahoma has brought up memories and thoughts from last fall/winter when I was working in tribal law.
The interconnectedness of issues such as these is a huge reason why I am doing this type of work, in this particular way.
Each community across America is truly unique and individualized, and needs to be viewed as such.
And these communities also need to be viewed as part of a bigger tapestry of our country's history, our present, and where we are going. Communities and issues can't be treated within a vacuum or silo—it is all part of a larger narrative.
For example, a detention center in Tacoma, Washington has a similar feel in Eloy, Arizona and Dilley, Texas—but each center that I have been to is its own world unto itself. And these are worlds that are very much needing to be connected.
Midwest, here I come
These upcoming weeks, I will continue to absorb all things about this part of the country. Driving into Oklahoma City last night, I viewed the most beautiful sunset from the road as it set behind expansive plains. I look forward to not only viscerally experiencing these places, but also seeing how immigration affects the Great Plains and Midwest areas in our country.
I will make very brief stops in Kansas City and Des Moines before arriving in Minneapolis and Chicago for longer stretches of time.
As always, if you are in these metro areas, I would absolutely love to see you! And if you know of others who I should connect with in the immigration/social justice world, I would love to speak with them.
Until next time!