My mother’s family has been on this continent for over 300 years. My father’s family arrived on this continent nearly 400 years ago. Faced with oppression in Europe, they indulged their fight or flight instincts and risked everything they had for a chance to build their own life out of the reach of the ruling class.
My family, those that survived the months-long journey across the sea and the harsh winters that awaited them in the wilderness they set out to tame, were adventurers and pioneers, They settled the eastern seaboard and built the first communities in what would later become the United States. With their bare hands, they carved towns and cities out of the earth that still stand today.
As life became easier, the softer men arrived and a new establishment began to grow in these cities. My family, grew uneasy with influence these velvet gloved aristocrats had and chose once more to adventure into the wilderness to escape. Again they traveled west, sometimes on foot for hundreds of miles through dangerous uncharted lands that claimed the lives of many.
Once my grandfather shared with me the journal of his great great grandfather who was one of these men, a pioneer that had led settlers across the North American continent. It was startling to read how frequently and easily he recorded the death of a family member, including his own children, lost disease or the elements or some combination of the two. Death was the price of freedom for many of these ancestors of mine and they paid it without hesitation.
When I was young I had the opportunity to visit the remains of a cabin that my great-great-grandfather had built with his own hands. The same harsh climate that had claimed the lives of three of his children had reduced the cabin to its foundation but I was still able to walk on the same dirt floor where my great grandfather played as a child and look out at the same forests and mountain ranges they saw every morning as they started their day in this land they had tamed. Land that my family has fought in war after war to defend, land they settled from coast to coast, east to west.
Now here I stand, a descendant of these men, a man whose family predates this nation by over a century, and I’m told that all of this means nothing. that we are a nation of immigrants. I am told by the families and the descendants of families who came to this continent not to risk their lives and their wealth but to collect the treasure and wealth my family cultivated and provided, families who rode gently down the river of my family’s blood, that I am an immigrant no different than they are and to add insult to injury, no different than those who today violate the laws of my ancestors and the borders they fought and died to define. Borders they hoped would protect their descendants.
As they seek to distort the history of my people, as they blame my family for slavery, a practice that none of my ancestors participated in and if they did it was they who were the indentured servants. As I see these carpetbaggers and locusts come to harvest the fields my family plowed for centuries, I feel, because it has been bred into my bones, the need to once again venture out into the wilderness to escape the leeches.
But there is nowhere to go. We can no longer flee to the west. We cannot act as our ancestors did by abandoning the cities we built to the parasites who have arrived. Fleeing our communities and allowing them to feast upon the fruits of our labor while we search for new frontiers to tame to escape their attacks on our freedom.
We have been desperately looking for a solution to this growing feeling inside of us. The same feeling that drove our ancestors across the Atlantic and then across the continent. An anxiety that drives the wild animal within to risk self harm to escape the danger when the chances for survival begin to drop dangerously near zero. There is nowhere to go this time and that anxiety you feel building up inside it the wild animal that drove your ancestors into the wilderness slowly coming to the realization that it has become cornered.