George Floyd’s murder has made me cry many nights over how senseless and inhumane his killing was. Learning of the killing of Breonna Taylor and many other black people has been soul crushing to say the least. A question comes to my mind in these times, “where is home for me?”. I lived for 20 years in Switzerland and finally decided to leave 3 years ago. Canada, my new home, also has its problems with racism, police brutality and the way Indigenous people have been/are treated. This is a text I wrote 3 years ago: it depicts my experience of moving while black. I would have been scared to share this in the past for fear of further discrimination.
THAT TIME WE MOVED
We were expecting our first daughter and realised quickly that we needed a new apartment for our family. We set out to search for an a place, hoping to move before the baby came.
But this was Geneva, finding a place is really difficult because of the high rent prices. Switzerland is a country where 60% people rent and some big groups and families own the real estate market. People use their connections to get access to available apartments especially when you don’t have to be a Swiss Banker to afford the rent.
For this new search, we registered at the pension fund for workers of the state of Geneva. This fund rented its apartments to employees of the state of Geneva at slightly lower than market rates. Neither I nor my partner worked for the state but my friend Céline had told me to try anyways. I was desperate at this point, so why not. The caseworker was very called when I called, warm even. She listened to my plight and laughed at my jokes before telling me there was no apartment available. I did not give up and called regularly.