Or at least close. For a while I’ve been thinking about it: I’d like to physically visit the detention center(s) in Texas where children are being held. Even in that sentence there’s so much ignorance: how many centers are there? Are they actually on the border? Are families being held or is it just children? What’s the current state of this policy?
This ignorance reflects my capacity to consume news at a surface level, through reading Twitter and other high-end news sources. It reflects that while I have a strong, visceral reaction to facts that I consume, I don’t hold these facts in the context of my day-to-day life. They’re almost like decorations, little grief-bubbles I can pop and move through on my way to Starbucks.
I don’t doubt facts (this is not a Fake News post): I simply don’t consume them fully, as information is so vast and facts of my liking are packaged for me in tidbits that I can consume from the comfort of my lifestyle.
The comfort of my lifestyle. The medium is the massage.
I thought, I would like to go. To physically take myself to Texas and find some of these places, and see them. Seeing them felt key. Doing a trip in real-time felt key. Moving my physical body through time and space felt key. Having an actual experience, as opposed to consuming a bite of outrage, was at the core of my impulse.
Here’s a list of reasons I told myself this was a terrible idea:
- It’s centering myself (Sarah’s Current-Events Adventure!) against other people’s actual pain;
- Why not just take the money I’d be spending on a flight & car and donate it to people doing work at the border? it would do more good there;
- I’m literally going to see, if anything, the outside of some blonde brick buildings, and take pictures of them. What’s the point?
- I could rent a car and drive to one of the centers in Illinois, so why go all the way to Texas?
Here’s a list of reasons this still feels important to me:
- It’s an impulse that hasn’t gone away for a while, a recurring little voice that wants to do this;
- I am an experiential person. I learn best through action. Also, having a trip planned will push me to learn more about what’s going on than I would otherwise. (know thyself, project-based learner);
- I feel it’s important to make a physical and time-based act that takes me away from social-media consumption of the world and into human consumption of the world. There’s something about the remove and absolute ease with which “the world” is packaged for me, a privileged white woman, that feels important to push back against. Even if this is adventure tourism, cut from the same cloth of easy packaging, it’s still a step beyond the screen.
- Why not go see the outside of blonde brick buildings and take pictures of them? It’s a reminder that these things live in time and space. That they live in the same time and space (relatively speaking) that I do. That it’s not a different world but part of the same world;
- As for Texas, not Illinois? First steps, I guess. The Texas border captures the mythic history-part of this debacle. It’s at the heart of the border language which in itself is the heart of this manufactured crisis. And, it’s more of a commitment for me than a day trip in Illinois, and I wanted this to feel like a commitment, even if tiny.
- And I suppose that I can also donate money, it doesn’t have to be an either-or proposition.
I also realized, this act doesn’t have to be the be-all or end-all of anything. It’s a weekend. I’m not planning on organizing a rally or changing the world. But I want to teach myself that I as a person can take small action and small movement if it feels important. Any maybe something feeling important is enough. It’s almost like training myself that I have agency. And saying to myself, I don’t know where one small action will lead. It can lead to the next, to nothing, to a quicker buy-in next time I want to go see something for myself; more confidence; experiences I certainly won’t have if I stay at home, etc.
I’ve been thinking about this for a while and someone challenged me last weekend to buy a plane ticket.
So. I’m flying into San Antonio on Friday, April 19th at night and flying back on Sunday April 21st. I have research to do on where I’m going to visit, whether I’m going to connect with groups while I’m there; if there’s any structure I want to add to this trip; or any artifacts I want to bring back from it.
After I bought my ticket I learned about Josh Rubin, who took his RV from Brooklyn and drove it to Tornillo, Texas to witness what was going on. Tornillo was closed in January 2019. The Facebook page, Witness: Tornillo, that Rubin started, now focuses on a center called Homestead, in Florida.
How this trip will come together who knows but I am sharing that I’m doing it. Let me know if you have ideas or thoughts.
I’ll post updates as they come.