I remember in June 2014, I was driving back from my internship to campus and a police officer was cruising behind me. Now it was obvious the officer was doing his patrol, but for some reason, I got so scared, that I pulled into the gas station coming up. I waited in the parking lot for a few minutes, trying to calm my nerves. Normally, I have no problems having a police officer cruising behind me, but that day made me afraid. Afraid that was gonna get killed by a police officer.
Ever since I moved to Korea, I felt a sense of peace. A peace that as a black person, can never truly feel in our own country of birth. Now my family and friends have asked before and after, aren’t you afraid to go to South Korea? What if a war starts? Like many other expats, I did feel some fear, but they went away. Living abroad has made me realize something. I felt safe. Genuinely Safe. Safer than I ever had been in my life. Especially as a Black man. As an African-American, I felt safer living abroad.
No Gun Violence
Living in America, there’s an unhealthy obsession with guns. Yes its in the 2nd Amendment, but its taken out of proportion. In 2017, there have been 317 Mass shootings. And the sad part is, I almost started to become numb to it. Yes its that easy to get a gun. The path of legally owning a firearm is that easy. Now to any international reader wondering why the USA wont put in tighter gun laws. Its because of the NRA aka the National Rife Association, one of the most powerful lobbyist groups in the country. Our representatives are honestly afraid of them. There have been congressmen who tried to enact gun laws, but the NRA lobbied hard and play manipulative ads to make sure the person lost their next election. And it worked. Out of all the countries I been to, I felt safer because of tight gun laws.
As an African American, there are two talks you receive when growing up. Yes the sex talk and most often what I call, the black talk. My parents sat me down and talked to me about what to do when you’re pulled over by the police. This wasn’t about not driving crazy, it was about not being shot by the police and making it home in one piece. Hence the story above. U.S. police officers are not being accountable for killing innocent black people. Even if they may have committed a small crime, there have been officers who have killed black men and women young and old and not their families of the deceased haven’t received any justice.
I would honestly say, the number one reason I have to feel safer abroad is having access to healthcare. I may not have insurance, but the fact I can go the doctor any time and ask the receptionist “Do you take Cash or Card?”, is an amazing feeling. Before, I was afraid of going to the doctor. While I was under my parents insurance plan, I always had the concern my card would not work. Even the pharmacy isn’t expensive! Back in January 2017 for Chinese New years I got a pretty bad ear infection. My prescription which included painkillers and an ear drop cost me 38,000 Korean won. Which is about $35! I sure if I had the infection in the States, it would have cost a whole lot more. Possibly in close to $1000. The feeling of being able to see a doctor without worrying about the bill makes me feel safer than anything. Ask any American teaching in Korea and they agree the healthcare is 100x better than the United States.
Living abroad has put at a peace you can only achieve by living in another country. As an American……no as an African-American, I felt at peace. Will I return to the US? Only if I have absolutely no choice. When I can feel safe in the country I was born in and have access to affordable healthcare, I will return. Or when I need to get some fried Oreo’s.