This is a travel blog. But it’s also a blog for expats—specifically (since it’s my own area of expertise), American expats. I don’t know about you, but over the past several weeks, I’ve been struggling with my identity as an American, the feeling of being (physically) distanced from issues I care about, and the helplessness of not being able to do more to help.
My answer to that struggle was to create Stimulate Change, an initiative that calls on American expats to donate their U.S. government stimulus money to fund much-needed changes at home. I hope you’ll take just a moment to read this open letter to American expats, share with your communities, and consider how you, too, can help make a difference.
An Open Letter to American Expats
To my fellow Americans abroad,
I’ve lived in Germany too long to be anything but direct: America needs to fucking change. If you disagree, this is not the page for you.
I don’t know about you, but since November 8, 2016, I have gone out of my way not to be “American.” I am Californian. I am a girl from Oakland. But I was not going to wear that badge of Trump’s America.
I don’t why you left the States, or what your relationship is to it now. Maybe you, like me, have read about George Floyd’s murder (and all the murders before his) and cried in horror and helplessness. Maybe you, like me, watched the video of Amy Cooper in Central Park with fury and disgust. Maybe you, like me, watched America mobilize in response to both events and longed to be a voice in the crowd, strengthening a call that has reverberated across the country and across the globe.
Maybe you have also questioned what you can do—not just say, but actually do—to make a difference.
For me, the answer came in a letter from Trump. The letter contained $1200 of Economic Impact Aid. Holding it, I realized I could use this $1200 for an impact greater than our government had intended. Not to stimulate America’s markets. To stimulate America’s reform.
We should not have to do this. The government of our hopes and ideals should be taking care of its people. But year after year, death after death, it fails us. It’s clear: it’s up to us to take care of each other.
Maybe you think, I don’t live in America anymore. This is not my responsibility or my problem. You are wrong. What happens in the U.S. impacts the world. So whether or not you still identify as an American citizen, you cannot call yourself a citizen of the world and not care about what’s happening in the U.S. And unlike most people, you are in the unique position to actually do something about it.
That’s what I am asking you to do. If you have not applied for your stimulus check—which, fittingly, is distributed on behalf of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) act—apply.
And then donate the money back to the American people. Use the money to fund advocacy groups, community organizers, and mental health counselors. Use it to bail protestors out of jail. Use it for reforms wherever you live now. And in doing so, show America, especially Black Americans, that we—the world—see them, and act in solidarity.
Apply for the check. Donate it back. Spread the message. And perhaps most importantly: VOTE this November.
I did and I will. Because I am a girl from Oakland, a Californian, and an American—even abroad.
Thank you for reading this open letter to American expats. If you can, please share with your communities, and consider how you, too, can help make a difference. Starting with registering to vote from abroad.