Could You Leave The United States?

by Kevin Burton

   Amber Blackmon told her story Monday on, I wish she had told more of it.

   Or maybe it’s better this way. Maybe we are meant to insert our own details into what she has given.

   The story hit home because she did something I sort of did years ago. In May of this year she moved from the United States to Mexico. 

   “On May 21 I left the US and moved to Mexico to seek a better, more peaceful quality of life free from structural racism,” Blackmon wrote.

   My first thought was I wish she had elaborated on that. But stories of structural racism in the United States are available daily. You would have a much harder time avoiding one than finding one. 

   She did say this much:

   “Being Black is a different experience depending on both the cultural and political views of the country you’re in. In the US, I often felt like I had a constant target on my back. Being Black in Mexico has been nothing short of peaceful, welcoming, and accepting. The greatest surprise wasn’t that people in Mexico were kind, but that my levels of stress and anxiety from living in the US have become nearly non-existent.”

   This is her story. Her glance is not backward. 

   “Expatriating to Mexico has been one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made for my health, my professional career, and my overall quality of life,” Blackmon wrote. “I’ve learned more about Mexican and Mayan cultures, traditions, and daily lifestyles, and it’s presented me with the opportunity to teach and consult others on what it’s like to be an expatriate.”

   Blackmon contrasts some aspects of Mexican life with life in the US.

   Her thoughts on health care:

   “Since moving to Mexico, I’ve prioritized my personal health. When choosing to see a dentist, massage therapist, chiropractor, or therapist, I’ve been able to make and schedule an appointment within a week or less.

This is drastically different from my experience in the US, where I’ve waited weeks to simply be referred to a specialist. As a Black person, I also feel medical care in the US is greatly lacking due to racial discrimination and prejudices,” Blackmon wrote.

   “It’s affordable to see doctors in Mexico without health insurance, plus they’ve genuinely cared about the outcomes of their service and treatment. My doctors give me the space to ask questions, and they constantly ask how I’m feeling and if everything makes sense.” 

   “It’s a priceless experience to be treated with care and dignity, especially in a vulnerable space.

  Her thoughts on work-life balance:

   “It’s always surprising how many people I see out on a random Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon spending time with their loved ones or working on their personal hobbies. For many in the US, that’s a luxury.

   “Here, although work is still important, it doesn’t feel like the center of reality. More priority is placed on living and enjoying life as opposed to constant productivity.” 

   I’d like to see this story turned into a book or podcast, something longer. As it is she paints all things US as bad, all things Mexico as good. That is beyond silly. Maybe there just wasn’t room in the short article for proper nuance.

   Blackmon’s story reads like something from the travel section. She writes about Mexico’s topography and that the country is dog-friendly, probably not points that factor in a decision on which country to live in.

    What I want is details of her decision-making process, the pros and cons of the move. 

   When I moved to Mexico in 1987 I was young and lacking in critical thinking. Not that I was bad at critical thinking, I skipped that exercise altogether.

   I call my move a tantrum, over not immediately getting the job in print journalism that I was seeking. 

   I had a great time during a two-week visit to Mexico with three college friends.  From that, I took the leap to actually move there, to either work as a tour guide or what actually happened, as an English teacher.

   I’m sure Blackmon’s decision was better thought out. Bottom line: moving from the United States is not some leap into the abyss.

   In the weeks after the 2016 presidential election I read a number of stories about people investigating other countries as a place to land. Canada and Costa Rica were mentioned a lot. 

   The thought of leaving entered a lot of people’s minds including mine.  For most of us, it was a complete non-starter. My first thought was of my wife’s happiness. The idea of leaving died right there.

   But not everyone has family ties that preclude such a move.

   In fact Americans are renouncing their citizenship at a record rate, according to a 2020 article by Brett Goodin on More on that and the suitability of Mexico as a new home country, Friday on Page 7.

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