I moved to Australia a year ago after spending the prior 10 years in the US. Alongside being a South African, I consider myself a Californian, although not quite an American. I don't identify as Australian yet, but it's early days.
I spent the last few weeks visiting friends in San Francisco. Every day while there, I was assailed with fresh violations by a regime intent on dismantling democracy and disregarding human decency. This is not the America that I fell in love with and the betrayal is heartbreaking.
I attended the San Francisco Women's March and while I marvelled at the unity and love of a crowd 150,000 strong standing out in the cold and rain, I felt impotent. Here we all are and yet the lying, the hate, the corruption will continue unabashed. Sadness is appropriate - there is much to mourn right now. Obama's America, my America, is in flames, gutted by soulless mercenaries. What was, is no longer, and we need to fight for our ideals, not a continuation of the status quo.
Despite my despondence, I hold my head erect, staring into the storm. My bravery is borrowed from the graciousness of those around me. The stranger at the Women's March who gave me his umbrella because I didn't have a rain jacket. The governments of San Francisco and California, who have said they will protect their citizens. The revellers at the Edwardian ball expressing their individualism and creativity. The protesters at the airport, three days in, chanting over and over again "refugees are welcome here".
I am outside the US right now and my tenure as a US permanent resident can easily be revoked. I have some hard decisions to make on what I am personally willing to risk to stand up for what I think is right. I am not feeling brave or selfless, but I hope that I can fake it long enough to make it true.
Neil, a South African who has made America his home
taking a photo of Chinese New Year Celebrations in Sydney, Australia
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