Not every immigrant desires a return. The assumption that every immigrant longs to return is problematic and inaccurate. I have no desire to return. As a radical feminist, ex-Muslim and solo female traveler, returning would be a death sentence. Not only is apostasy punishable by death in Somalia, but women who are emboldened enough to be vocal about gender inequality are also often killed with impunity. I guess being a woman with an opinion is grounds for murder. Nothing about gallivanting in a war zone excites me. I also don’t embody the desire to martyr myself. I actually enjoy living.
The idea of returning home has always rubbed me the wrong way. This is home. This is the only country where I have documentation stating I am, in fact, a real person. I’m not recognized as a citizen anywhere else. This is a place where I can drive, wear whatever I want to, leave my faith, access higher education and be financially independent. Do you really think I would be self-sufficient, travel solo to places like Colombia and Trinidad & Tobago and live my ex-Muslim life in peace…in Somalia of all places? I feel ridiculous for even typing that. The truth of the matter is, the life I have today would never be possible as a Somali woman living there.
I’ve made peace with the fact that the US will be my permanent home. There’s nothing to return to. I don’t believe there’s a better life waiting for me back home. The idea that living in the West is just a temporary place for me until the war subsides is baffling. I can’t even imagine—as someone who’s fiercely independent and fearless—hiding my lack of belief to remain alive. I would have to inhabit the least amount of space as possible. I would have to be voiceless. It’s already dangerous enough being Black in America. Simply being able to be vocal about my dissent, knowing my rights in the workplace, traveling solo to anywhere of my choosing, and speaking truth to power is liberating. I am still in awe that I will never have to live in hiding ever again. It’s such a relief to know that I am living to serve a higher purpose. I can write about my dissent freely without fear of recourse. I have the freedom to go anywhere.
Not every immigrant desires a return. Some of us desire to galvanize change within our own communities towards a world without gender-based violence. A world where people can leave their religion without fear of violence, homelessness or imprisonment. A world where our collective liberation is contingent upon dismantling every system of oppression. This is the world I am fighting for.
GabarIskuFilan is a radical feminist blog. I post twice a week about solo travel, feminism, womanhood, and race. Follow me on twitter @gabariskufilan