I have long been aware that the place in the world where I call home and feel at home is very distant from any salt water. Orient yourself in any compass direction, and despite the abundance of freshwater, I’m quite distant from ocean by any measure.
This week at work, I was introduced to the idea of a Land Acknowledgement. My home and my place of work are on land where other peoples were displaced through trickery and with force.
My last name is a place name, from a tiny hamlet in what is currently Poland. Land that was once called German, and Pomeranian Prussian, and I don’t yet know what before that. My armchair etymology suggests the name means “From the place” or something simpler.
Three or four generations back, my relatives come from places now called England, Sweden, Germany, or Russia
We came by steam ship and steam train, mostly in the early twentieth century, to the middle of the North American continent. To places freshly delineated as Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota.
If doing all of that work to get all of the way away from where-I’m-from was worthwhile, then I have to ask, what was it about where-I’m-from the was so undesirable? How were the fortunes spent on transport seen to be a good plan? It’s not like we got to Boston or New York City and thought that was far enough.
The how part of how I am here is kind of easy to answer. The why, though? That might lead to some hard and possibly triggering conversations.
I am neurodivergent. I think that is an answer, in a way. Because it’s not by random chance. But, ultimately, the idea that anyone can go somewhere else to be more free to be who they are is, ultimately, deeply naive.
If I am not free to be me, where I am, nor are you free to be you where you are, then the problem isn’t geography.