[Opinions expressed herein are my own and have not been endorsed by Mozilla]
This week Mozillians from around the world are taking part in the biannual tradition of descending on a city for a week-long all-hands meeting. In this case the location is San Francisco. Unfortunately I’m not participating in this tradition for the first time in 9 years.
So what, What are you really missing?
On the surface it’s basically a 4-day meeting marathon but to me the meetings are the least valuable part of the week. To me these events are about relationships. All-hands is an opportunity to meet friends new and old, to share stories of survival and to laugh in the face of our failures. It is a time to talk candidly with leadership, to participate in real-time discussions with people I normally speak with over IRC or e-mail, and to talk with people I never get a chance to otherwise. Sharing stories in person is the best thing about these events.
This sounds awesome, why would you not go?
I want to begin by crediting Mozilla for standing up to the cultural regression that is occurring. They came out against Trump’s travel ban and have taken extra steps to ensure legal support during our travels and security at the All-hands. I commend them for taking these steps but it is still not enough to persuade me to risk crossing the border.
First and foremost I know some Mozillians have been barred from going simply because of their background. I chose not to go out in protest of Trump’s draconian policies and in solidarity with those of my peers who haven’t been given the same choice.
Secondly I am concerned that the attitudes in the Whitehouse have given license to bigotry. As someone who identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community I am worried about a regressive, draconian executive order being signed targeting this community. If this were to happen I would fully expect there to be protests in San Francisco. This would become a distraction from everything I’d come to accomplish as I wouldn’t think twice about joining in these protests, possibly resulting in my deportation.
Finally I want to avoid US border guards. I know myself, I respect authority as long as they respect my dignity and treat me as a human-being. I will not hesitate to fight back and make my voice heard if I feel mistreated. The outcome of which is likely to be detainment and/or being escorted out. Statistically the potential of this happening is low but it’s not zero. I have chosen to avoid this situation altogether. I’m just not willing to put myself nor Mozilla in this position.
My experience at the US border has never been a positive one. Whether I was traveling for business and had the proper clearance, or if I was just heading down to the US for vacation, US Border guards have made me feel progressively less welcome in their country (clearly I’m not alone). Under Trump this has reached a point where I can’t be bothered anymore. Life is short and there’s many more welcoming countries I’ve yet to explore.
What about the next all-hands?
I always look forward to these gatherings. It’s often a rollercoaster of emotions and I always leave more tired but more re-energized than when I arrived. I often rediscover my passion to fight for the open web. It pains me to be missing out but I know it’d pain me more if I’d gone knowing some of my peers were being deprived of this opportunity due to an untenable political situation. I hope this is a mere blip and that I can one day join my friends in the US but for now it is terre sans homme, for business and for pleasure.