As this administration draws to a close, Audrey Edwards is packing as fast as the Obamas.
By January 20, Inauguration Day, she’ll be nearly 6,000 miles away from Brooklyn not watching the festivities in Paris.
A journalist and real estate agent, she first got the idea to leave the US when former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani ran for president in 2008. But when Trump rode down that gilded escalator, called Mexicans rapists, and announced his candidacy for Commander-in-Chief, Edwards put friends on notice:
“If somebody as crazy as this guy gets in, I’m out of here.”
“We as black people have a history of being expats,” says Edwards, “and a popular place has always been Paris.”
Black soldiers after both world wars stayed on in France, and such artists and writers as Josephine Baker, Ada “Bricktop” Smith, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes and Richard Wright found it a source of creative inspiration and freedom from the claustrophobia and violence of race relations back home.
Africa has drawn such authors and activists as Maya Angelou and W.E.B. DuBois, who found meaning in broadening their connection to the diaspora, particularly through stays in Ghana, where Bernard Walker has been for nearly three years.
He heads up The Rene Group, LLC, an export management and development company that partners with non-governmental organizations, corporations, and governments to help reduce poverty on the continent.
“I’m not on a mission to renounce the USA,” he says, “but to grow and expand both.” Ultimately, he intends to hold dual citizenship, which will truly make him African-American.
Keren Johnson calls her plans to leave the US a “Blaxit.” She let the lease run out on her L.A. apartment, put choice possessions in storage in Washington D.C., and is finishing a temp assignment before she leaves the country this spring with the intention of being gone as much as possible over the next four years.
She’ll hit St. Thomas’ 65th Annual Carnival in April, Cuba in June, and Caribana in Toronto in July. Jamaica and Costa Rica are on the itinerary, as are South Africa and Ghana, which she just visited in November 2016 and found to be “a good vibe for my soul.”
“The European lifestyle is much more relaxed and less centered around job as a social strata,” he says.