Archive | February, 2009

Frugality and Black Folks

27 Feb

While I write this blog so that anyone regardless of race or ethnicity can read it, I will admit my audience by and large is Black folks and this is one of those times I am writing for that audience.

In these tough economic times it seems everyone is attempting to scale back on some level yet I fear that for many of my fellow Black Americans that should this financial storm get too tough we will come out on the losing side. If we do though I think while there are larger systems that work against us, I fear part of our financial demise will be our own doing because too many of us are caught up in image.

I may live in Maine where there are not too many Black folks but I am not from Maine, so I still have a fair amount of friends and associates that live in large urban hubs like Chicago and New York. Now that I have been out of Chicago for a while and living in Maine, I am stunned at the amount of frivolous spending I used to do and how much many of my friends do all the time having no financial net to catch them in the event of a severe financial calamity.

Yeah, we may have jobs with a 401K  plan that we invest in on the regular though we know how that is going these days, we may also have a few other financial tools we use to invest in as well but have we really looked at how much seemingly small amounts of money we spend daily on so called needs.

I know when I lived in Chicago, I had to have several daily lattes and mocha’s, I had to get my hair done on the regular, shit hair maintenance was in the budget like a utility bill. I ate out several times a week, after work I thought nothing of stopping at so called discounters like TJ Maxx and Marshall’s to buy something on sale, after all I couldn’t be un-stylish. Looking back on my life prior to moving to Maine and even in my earlier years in Maine, I probably spent well over a thousand dollars a month on so called small needs.

When I look back at how much money I blew on so-called needs, it makes me sick yet the one good thing is that years of wasting money on so -called needs and coming into true financial hardship has allowed me to adjust my attitudes on money and as I like to think if I ever have the money I used to, I will be in better shape financially.

That said, too many of us spend yet statistically speaking we make less money and we save less than white folks, shit Black folks are the ultimate consumers but I am sorry to say that needs to end.

I have some folks close to me who spend a lot of money and while I am not trying to say how they should live, the fact is when you eat out a lot rather than cook, sorry but that is wasteful.

Looking at the large Black community as I see so many of our white brothers and sisters learning to be frugal by doing things such as sewing (shit, local shop near me even offers classes to go with the machine if you buy one), gardening and not just for gorgeous flowers, and basically heading towards gaining the skills to be self sufficient. I cannot help but wonder if we meaning Black folks are about to be left in the dust.

Its sort of like the digital divide, more Black folks are online these days but we still lag behind whites online and today as traditional media such as newspapers go the way of the telegraph, you may need a computer and internet just to know what the fuck is going on in the world. Yet once again, you can find us at the club or restaurant looking sharp as hell, but we are falling behind.

I know there are other Black bloggers such as KIT and Original Wombman and others who write about self sufficiency from a Black perspective but too many of us even in the blogosphere are ignoring the reality of what may be to come. I think ya’ll know I don’t think the the world is ending so I am not saying you need to stockpile food but on the other hand how many of us would be ok if suddenly food supplies at the local grocer suddenly dwindled? What if there were limits on what you could buy? How would you do live with that?

Folks, while its fun to look good, have a nice ride and be out there, we must prepare for self sufficiency. I say if you have access to someone who can teach you some basics of self sufficiency, then you need to be all over that like white on rice.  I wish my Granny were alive, she used to sew, crochet and garden. Sadly the only skill my Mom got was sewing and nobody passed these on to me, so I have to teach myself. Next week I am actually joining the local gardening club so I can get some hands on experience with dirt.

Happy Friday! Just a note, I may (or maynot) be silent for a few days in the coming week, its coming up on the 5th anniversary of my Mama’s passing so its an emotional time of year. So just a heads up if I don’t post for a few days.

Leave her arms alone

26 Feb

OK, I am late to the party but as always I have to add my two cents. It seems when Barack Obama spoke the other night before Congress, Michelle Obama may have upset the First Lady protocol by appearing sleeveless. At first I thought it was just a few folks perhaps older folks up in arms but it seems in my cruising the web, there are plenty of folks with an opinion about Mrs. Obama and her sleeveless arms.

Now I don’t know Michelle and for all I know she could be a raving bitch in private but from what I have seen of her, she strikes me as a down to earth sista. I know she hails from the south-side of Chicago not too far from where my Granny lived and that she grew up in a house that looked a lot like my grandma’s house. (gotta love the Chicago brick bungalow…they almost all look the same)  The fact that she could have never come back to the south-side of Chicago after college and law school but instead chose to settle in Chicago’s Hyde Park area also at least to me  speaks of someone who never wants to forget their roots.

I spent at least 35-40% of my childhood on Chicago’s south-side and its a place that while it has its shitty areas, its a place that forms you and molds you. Even now I live in Maine which is 180 degrees from the old neighborhood but I sometimes lament the fact that my daughter will never know the south-side and its people. Its hard to explain but the south-side of Chicago can be a gritty place but at the same time it can be a place that inspires a level of loyalty and a sense of never forgetting where you come from no matter where you, its a place that grounds you.

Anyway back to Michelle, change is hard…I suspect its got to be hard to go from just being a worker, wife and mama to now being the First Lady of the United States. To go from being able to grab a wing plate at Harold’s on Fridays to reward yourself for eating nice and organic all week to now having your every move peeped at and analyzed by folks, some of who truthfully know jack about Black folks.  Terrorist fist jab anyone?

On the other hand I have come across a fair number of upper-class Blacks who seem to feel that Michelle does not represent well. However considering she considers folks like Valerie Jarrett a personal friend that tells me that at some level Michelle must be able to wear the mask of being a working class person by origins even if that is not where she lives anymore on the class ladder well if she is friends with someone who clearly hails from the upper crust.

I don’t know but it seems to me that its rather unfair to judge Mrs. Obama on her fashion choices. Or better yet judge her to be lacking because she chooses to march to a different drum. I suspect in order to allow her husband to pursue his dream of being president, she has given up quite a bit. Again, not knowing either the president or first lady personally but I cannot imagine him telling her to dress more um…conservatively.

In my view Michelle represents a type of Black woman that many Black folks know in their personal lives yet the larger society is not familiar with; its the Michelle’s who do so much in our families and communities yet in the greater media representation we only see Sapphire, Jezebel or any other antiquated model for Black women. Or the new millenium hooch mama in music videos.

Call me crazy but I find the new First Lady to be refreshing, I suspect even if she were a white woman with the same background and style I would actually say the same thing. Yet the fact she is a brown skinned woman like myself and comes from a similar background only gives me an extra reason to smile.

I say with all that is going  on in this country, seriously leave her arms alone….shit, she has well maintained arms and if she wants to show them off, more power to her.

The $12 chicken

25 Feb

Its been a busy day, I was almost too busy to post but after chuckling about my visit to the local health food store, I figured I share my experience.

Let me start off by saying I am a sucker when it comes to shopping at places like Whole Foods or any good natural grocery store, its rare that I walk out of such places spending less than a $100 which if you know these places, does not buy a lot of food. However  in keeping with my commitment to not spend so much this month, I went in to my local health food store with a firm commitment to spend $20 or less. Now my list only had oatmeal and coffee, the coffee is $11 a lb and bulk oats go for $1.69 a lb. I only added some dish washing liquid and a cup of coffee to go…grand total a mere $21 and some odd change. This was a very good visit for me as the spousal unit commented, I have never spent so little at this particular shop.

I must admit it though it was hard especially as the fresh meat section is now across from the bulk bins and the fresh organic chickens and ground beef were winking at me. That is until I looked up close and saw that the price on the rather small Colemans Natural Chicken was only $12. Yep, only $12 for a nice uncooked chicken, a nice raw chicken that would require me to go home and prepare it.

I have to be honest, I am all about the organics and eating local but $12 for a uncooked chicken that only appeared to be 3 pounds at best is well, rather stupid. In these rough economic times I have had to start picking and choosing what is organic that I can keep buying, right now diary products and ground beef are the two winners. Anything else well, its been a nice ride on the organics but I just can’t do it anymore. Thankfully, we are not huge diary consumers but its still hard paying almost $5 for a half gallon of milk when I could get the standard issue milk for $3 a gallon.

Guess its a sign of the times, for a while organics were the hottest trends in grocery items but I suspect as more of us tighten the financial belt, gone are the days of all organics, all the time.

Anyway no $12  chickens tonight instead we are eating the .49 lbs chicken legs courtesy of the local butcher.

Happy Wednesday all!

Too much information?

24 Feb

It seems that my most recent post discussing my marriage has created a buzz, since Sunday I have heard from a few real life friends who felt that I either went too far by putting the Spousal Unit on blast or the flipside has been a few of my girls who told me they are in the same place and never felt like they could talk about the issues I brought up.

I won’t lie, truth is I was very hesitant to publish that post yet at the same time, there was a real need to say what I did and not necessarily  to just one or two folks. In the past couple of years, I have watched several good friends get divorced and in all cases the divorces even the “nice” ones are still messy. I have been divorced and its not a pleasant thing, families fracture, kids get bounced around and the list goes on.

No, when I remarried years ago, I knew it was important to marry someone I could always be honest with since truth be told had I written what I wrote about the Spousal Unit about my ex-husband, there is a chance that well, it would not have been good and I will leave it at that.

Yet in the age of the internet, are there times when one can reveal too much information about themselves online? The answer is yes, but at the same time I think that while so many of us stay connected 24/7, I think the sad reality is that most of  that “connection” is superfical. We are living in a time and space, where we can facebook, twitter, and use a vast array of tools to tell folks how we are doing, yet let’s be real who states in their facebook update “I am facing a moral dilemma”? I have yet to see that and I suppose if I did, most folks who would reply would do so in a cute and superficial way.

Nope, we do a lot of talking these days and sometimes reveal way too much about ourselves but at the same time we don’t reveal our true selves…instead we reduce ourselves down to cute and digestable soundbytes. I will be honest, I am at a stage in my life where I am all about being real and honest and recognizing that my quest to be real and honest may at times cause folks to go WTF???

There is something about getting older and seeing society shift from a place where we talk a ton but say nothing that has me wanting to get deeper, I neither want nor need to be nice or stay only on the surface. I think about how in recent months as our nation faces the worse economic crisis in years, we hear about tortured souls who decide to take their lives rather than face economic uncertainty. After these folks kill themselves and in some cases their families, inevitably we hear that they were nice folks…no one saw it coming. Of course not, no one wakes up and says today is a good day to kill myself, after coffee and an Egg McMuffin, I think I will finish it off with a taste of bullet to the head.

Nope, these folks are often stewing and brewing for a while yet for many of us we no longer are able to connect in a meaningful way that might prevent such tragedies from happening in the first place.

So while I do think there is a line we can cross as far as going too far when it comes to revealing ourselves in a public space at the same time by dropping our masks we can create opportunties to connect with others in a meaningful way.

Marriage…the real deal

22 Feb

This is a personal post, more a release of my own thoughts and yes while some of what I am about to say is raw, please know that everything that is on my mind has indeed been discussed with my husband.

Marriage, its that thing that many women dream about, from the time women are young girls somehow our culture has brought home the thought that one day you will wear a big white dress and walk down an aisle to your own prince charming, exchange promises to love, honor and maybe even obey. There might even big a party and afterwards you will  live happily ever after, maybe even have a couple kids, a house and be together until death do you part.

Problem with this thought is that its pure fantasy, everyone thinks about the wedding, the dress and all that other shit but very little detail is focused on the hard day to day work of staying married. I have talked about some of this before but marriage is hard work, its the second hardest job you get when it comes to personal relationships aside from raising kids.

I am going to be honest, I am in a rut. The spousal unit and I have been married 11 years, it will be 12 this fall…up until a few years ago, our marriage seemed perfect. I married a man who is my best friend and make no mistake he still is my best friend. There is nothing I cannot share with him hence why what I am writing is not new to him but the reality is that the challenges of living with less money thus the ability to take that occasional trip is now gone and just doing fun things is pretty non-existant, then you add to the mix we are raising the kids and you add aging ….well, its a recipe for feeling like BB King’s oldie but goodie “The Thrill is Gone”.

I don’t think the thrill is really gone its just that in the real world of marriage and relationships, sometimes there isn’t going to be a thrill….sometimes its going to feel like the most boring job in the world. You know that good steady job that isn’t exciting but pays damn well so you know you need to stay.

However there are times when temptation enters the picture, this is going to sound strange to anyone who doesn’t personally know us which is most of my readers but my mate is a few years older than me, so he has already crossed that 40’s threshold where I have a few more years to go, in case you care to know I am 36. Regular readers also know that the spousal unit is white and I am not…we are facing a strange scenario where the hubby is not aging as gracefully as me, we both attribute this to our respective gene pools. I look like I am in my 20’s and the hubby does not. Truthfully its hard for me watching him age less gracefully than what I am used to in my own family of origin, my Pops is almost 60 but still has a head full of hair whereas my husband is bald because the male pattern baldness was so bad that trying to keep what hair he had was not working anymore.

Now, I know I may sound vain as hell but the reality is its hard for me and well this is where my mind wanders and wonders, no I have no desire to step out on the hubby but since I lost all my weight and now am the size I have spent most of my life at, the reality is temptation seems to be lurking in every corner and I gotta be honest its hard to say no.

Lately I feel as if my soul is is in this death match, there is the angel on one side saying don’t go there and the spirit on the other side saying “Life’s short..go for it”. I made a joke a few days to my husband that I feel like I should never go back home for a visit since temptation would even be worse, of course never visiting family and friends is not feasible but you know what I mean…

My point in sharing this is that marriage is hard work, lately I have been praying daily to recommit myself to my husband and not allow these thoughts to take over but I am reminded that this is much harder than one thinks. I also have realized that many couples that have been married 20, 30, 40 and more years have also faced these same temptations…some give in but many don’t. Yet nobody ever tells couples when they are wrapped up in the love glow that a day may come when you find yourself praying for the strength and courage to stay the course and not stray.

I am also convinced that not all straying is the result of bad feelings, heck I love my husband but what I am battling is independent of him, in some ways its a moral test that I am facing. The one test I have no intentions of  failing but one I never expected to be an issues 11 years ago when I stood in front of my husband and my father (who married us) and pledged my undying love.

Beyonce recently came out with a song telling the single ladies to get a ring, well I say before you get that ring think about what the journey of marriage will entail, its more than rings and dresses…its a journey that can reveal who you are at your deepest core.

Get ready….the world is ending or is it?

20 Feb

By now just about everyone in this country is either feeling the impact of the economic downturn or knows someone  who is intimately acquainted with the current financial woes that are gripping the nation. It seems even the rich are starting to scale back, even if its just cutting back on the number of designer duds that buy on a regular basis as evidenced by the fact that in places like New York, even the swank stores are having sales.

Now lets be honest for a second, the past decade or so in this nation, the quest to consume had become not only the national past time but the national religion. Feeling bored, hop in the car and head to the mall….feeling down, well go shop, better yet having a great day, time to shop. You get the picture, for a while there everyone was shopping, shit for some of those years even yours truly listed shopping as a hobby. Well the church of consumption is suffering from a lack of members as folks have realized maybe the central message of shop till you drop is really a bad idea.

That said, as many of us look for ways to downsize our lives and live within our means most of us are looking for meaningful activities, activities that won’t leave our pocketbooks empty and leave us with useless crap.

On the flip side though is the growing number of folks who are wondering if the end times are coming and are starting to get ready. A few months ago I started to stumble across the blogs of folks who were looking to get off the grid and become self sufficient. I admit initially I had a few laughs, after all who would willing give up their wash machine to start start hand-washing the family laundry on a scrub board in the bathtub? Turns out quite a few folks…yep there is a growing number of folks who are getting ready to live a Little House on the Prairie existence.

I must admit there are times I wonder if I should be making such preparations, but while I think everyone should have some extra food on hand and maybe even some cash laying around. After all natural disasters do happen and I have learned in my 7 years in Maine where a winter storm can shut everything down, it pays to be prepared. I do think we can take things too far though.

Case in point, I saw this list of  skills someone suggested everyone should have to prepare for the coming rough times, Soap making.
Wood chopping.
Candle making.
Canning and preserving.
Butchering animals.
Cooking/Baking on a wood stove.
Tanning skins

Now I don’t know about you, but should the world as we know it go to hell in a hand basket ASAP, my ass is going to be shit the fuck out of luck. Both the spousal unit and I are not handy folks, I mean my man is a writer for crying out loud and I am a non-profit administrator, neither of which are professions that might serve us well in a Little House on the Prairie scenario.

Then it hit me should the world end as we know it, there are plenty of urban folks and Black urban dwellers both of which I have been who wouldn’t know the first thing about any of this shit. Even my Pops who grew up in rural Arkansas but has been a big city man almost 40 years now probably wouldn’t know the first thing about butchering any animals. As I joked with the spousal unit, should the end come, then this woman would probably become a stone vegetarian if I had to go kill a animal and then figure out how to turn Bambi into a burger. No, it would be easier to scout out weeds and eat em, of course with the chemicals that have been put on most lawns including my own, I would probably die.

Which brings to the next point, if you are stockpiling a year’s worth of food (yes, I know folks who are doing this) what the fuck happens when the grub is gone. Ideally you would be growing some grub during that time but if you are like me, you might have a black thumb. Or better yet, if the neighbors see you eating hardy, whose to stop them from coming over and ganking your shit?

Nah, while I want to be prepared for the worse I think we can take this too far, look if all systems fail and food is scarce and life reverts to some 1800’s scene, it might be around that time I start praying to get beamed the fuck out of this life and onto the next.

Downsizing and living a simpler life, these are things I am down for but fanstastic end world visions, no….

That said, it is a great time to look into gardening if you have the space or in my case buying into a CSA and eating food grown close to home. For starters fresh local food is better for you and the environment. Really lettuce trucked thousands of miles taste like shit, I know because ever since I started eating locally a few years ago, I hate buying meat and veggies from the chain store and only do it during the winter time since not much grows in Maine during the winter. I may save some of my local veggies this year for the winter but I doubt I will have more than my normal month or so of groceries in my freezers and pantry.

So are you ready for the end of the world?

No Time

19 Feb

I was going to weigh in on the NY Post and that foul ass comic they ran in their paper but truthfully there are bloggers who are far more articulate than me who are already on the case. I will just say though that for all those who felt we are living in post-racial America….um, no we are not. In fact we are a long way from being post racial in any meaningful way and I suspect we will see more rank ass shit like this in the coming days.

Anyway on to the rant of the day. Today on Facebook a few folks posted a link to a column that I guess ran recently in a paper, it was a question and answer type deal. The question being asked was how come so many mothers of kids claim to never have time to stay in touch, instead saying their kids keep them too busy to stay connected to friends. As you can imagine quite a few folks got upset after all it seemed as if perhaps stay at home mothers were being judged.

Now I don’t care to fixate on the particulars of that column, but I will say that in recent years as technology has evolved I have noticed the growing tendency for folks to be too busy to call or return a friend’s call. I will admit in the first year of my daughter’s birth, I was tired quite a bit and therefore selective about who I gave my time to. However I made time for folks who matter to me. Let me repeat that, I made time for folks who matter.

My father who is 1100 miles away from and I have a standing time on the weekends that we call one another, some weekends we don’t talk but for the most part we always touch base even if its simply to leave a message. Now I must admit I try to connect with my brother on the regular but that cat stays busy, thankfully we do seem to stay in touch via Facebook.

I found myself thinking how sad it is that so many of us have cell phones, smartphones, internet, etc yet we are so busy that we have to struggle to make time to talk to a friend. Back in the early 1990’s when I was a single working Mama, I always had time to at least say hello and stay connected and this was before the day of 24/7 communications.

No, I think our lack of ability or desire to stay connected to folks we supposedly care about on some level speaks volumes about where we have been this past decade…stuck on a treadmill striving for more and better, yet never reaching the promised land. Instead we amass our items but have little connection to those around us. Several pieces have been written in recent years about how Americans by and large have become a lonely bunch, we no longer participate in community in any meaningful way.

I suppose the life path we have chosen in the last decade is starting to catch up with many of us as we face the new reality of a scaled down life…a life that will no longer involve work and perhaps worshipping at the altar of consumerism yet for many of us we will be at a loss of how to connect with others in a meaningful way.

Yes, we have the internet and we even have sites like Facebook but truthfully I will take getting together with a flash and blood friend any day over virtual connections. Don’t get me wrong, I think the internet can be a wonderful place to make connections. I have several friends I met years ago through the internet but at a certain point there is the need to connect face to face or even by phone and that is a place I think many of us are failing.

Look, we are all busy but there should always be a time for the people we care about in our lives.

Diversity cometh this way

18 Feb

Just a quickie today since I am off to conduct a training and feeling a tad under the weather. Portland is Maine’s largest city at roughly 65,000 inhabitants which really tells you how small this state is with a mere 1.5 million folks in a space that is as large as the other 5 New England states combined.

Anyway folks are often curious about how a Black woman (from Chicago of all places) can actually end up in Maine and moreso not want to slit her wrists…well its not easy but for the most part I like living here though I wish we did have a tad more diversity. That said, Portland our largest city and a mere minutes from my little town is about to get its first Black police chief. Check out this story, yep, James Craig a brotha from Los Angeles who currently oversees the gang and homicide unit in LA has decided to come to Maine.

According to the local media, he wanted a change of pace and even though he will be taking a substantial pay cut to be the top dog , I hope things work out well for him. Its funny because Portland also as a Black mayor, one Jill Duson who having met in passing once at a local event is a decent sista from what I can tell.

Strange, how in the whitest state, 2 of our largest cities, Portland and Auburn both have Black mayors and now we add a Black police chief.  Change is indeed a coming to a town near you, Black president, mayors in white states and so the list goes.

I’m just being silly but I just wanted to share that piece of news. All jokes aside, congrats Chief Craig and welcome to Maine.

They don’t know what to do

17 Feb

So I woke up this morning and as usual was listening to NPR and the discussion was focused on President Obama signing this massive stimulus package. On the surface that may sound like a good deal after all, at this point everyone agrees that the economy is in shambles and needs some help like yesterday. Crazy to imagine that just less than a year ago, Americans were running around spending money like kool-aid and now folks is holding what shekels they have left close to their vest.

I don’t know but I am starting to wonder does Obama and his crew really know what’s going on and do they really have some solid answers to attempt to fix this problem. I will admit I don’t know all the specifics about this stimulus deal but what I have heard has me feeling a tad confused about how this is going to solve the problems we face as a nation.

So Jane and Joe Worker will see a few extra bucks in their pay checks, I believe the figure I heard was $8 a week for a single person and $16 a week for a couple….um, how the fuck is that going to stimulate the economy? Some behavior economist I heard this morning was saying that with small amounts like this that the average Joe is going to see unlike the big stimulus check of last year, people are more likely to actually spend these small amounts of money rather than save. Ok, Mister Educated Economy Man, but um….I think you are wrong. Folks are not going to foolishly spend that extra $32 a month on fun shit, sorry but we have tasted the juice of hard times and even a former shopaholic like myself is down with saving. I just don’t think its going to work.

Problem as I see it is, we still want to hold to this model of Americans as consumers and now Americans with any iota of common sense are realizing that spending for the sake of spending is a bad idea.  I know that by and large Americans have short term memory but with credit lines reduced and no more equity to tap from, we are confronted with the reality that American wages have not kept pace with reality for most folks. I’m sorry but now that creditors have come face to face with the fact that the average Joe has no money, I just don’t see that easy credit being extended anymore.

Gone are the days of buying a car with no cash down or only a thousand down. Instead folks will be fixing up their clunkers and we will be like the cats in Cuba driving these rides until they really cannot run any longer. Shit, I just heard a story about how in Westchester County NY, the auto repair places are doing a booming business. Folks cannot afford new cars, who has 20-30G’s just sitting around to buy a car outright? Yeah, I thought so. Nobody.

Look Obama and company, right now all your policies sound like the same shit that has been done before…O-man I like you, you seem like a cool cat and your wife and kids are adorable but where is the change? I know some of us keep saying give you time. Well I hate to tell you but some of us are drowning, we need that same energy and drive that convinced a racist nation to vote you in. Honestly watching you try to be bipartisan is starting to piss me off, guess what? Them republican cats have no intention on working with you, so quit trying because all you are doing is pissing off folks who voted for you.

I don’t know but maybe Obama needs to start reading James Howard Kunstler for ideas on how to really stimulate the economy, whatever he does though it better be quick since states like California and Kansas are facing some rough times.

No…you don’t have a choice

16 Feb

Parenting is a hard job and as I say regularly raising kids may be one of the hardest jobs there is and in my humble opinion its the one job that if you fuck up the resulting effects can be devastating for generations to come. Which is why I don’t quite get parents who seem to want to take the easy route and be their kids friends while they are raising them. Look, when your kids are well adjusted adults there is plenty of time to be their friends.

I was recently taking part in an online discussion when the subject of would you let your kid drop out of high school came up and was stunned when many of the parents in the discussion said they didn’t feel there was anything they could do if their child was inclined to drop out. Some of the folks said they would seek alternatives but the general feeling was that completing high school is not all that critical to their child’s future success.

Um…..statistically speaking folks without a high school diploma earn less than everyone else. Yes, there is always the oddball case when someone will do well but lets be real, most folks who drop out end up living really hard and difficult lives. Shit, I know this firsthand, I dropped out and after 6-7 years of scrapping to get by, decided in my mid 20’s to go to college. While my path turned out well all things considered, there is no way I would let either of my kids drop out. Thankfully my son is happy with school and as a junior is getting ready to take his ACT and SAT and narrowing down his list of colleges to apply to; so barring some unexpected shit, next spring the boy should be graduating. Which leaves me with one down and one to go.

What I find interesting in these sorts of discussions its always the white folks who generally come from middle class stock that seem to think its okay if little Johnny needs time to find himself. I have never met a poor or working class white person or person of color that would say its ok to let their kid just drop out. Maybe its because those of us with less resources know you need everything you can in your resource bag to make it in this world, maybe its because we don’t have to look far to find the family member in their mid 30’s toiling away at a dead-end job with no benefits to know that education makes a difference.

Plenty of folks like to say college is not all that, no it may not be all that but the reality is we live in a world that many jobs that used to be held by high school graduates now require a degree of some sorts. Even my own job doesn’t require the advanced degree that I hold but it gave me a leg up over the competition and as I heard today “being employed is the new Black” so while I have days I feel like shit about the hundred grand in student loan debts, the fact is those 2 expensive pieces of paper have helped me get jobs.

No, I think class allows folks to romanticize what it means to scrape by, yet the reality is there is nothing romantic about busting your ass to survive. I feel like I missed much of my son’s early childhood because Mama had to work and there were times I had to work 2 and 3 jobs as a single Mama to put food on the table.

So while you may not be able to force a kid to go to school, I think you can do a lot to make that kid understand early on that not going to school is not an option. Sadly my parents did give me the option, it was either work or school, well for a 17 year old who was earning $200 a week back in 1990, working didn’t seem like a bad option. Of course I learned early on that $800 a month was crap money when it came to actually paying bills.

Nope, I am sorry kids but you don’t have a choice, not only must you finish high school but I expect you to do something after high school as well, preferably college but at the very least you need to learn a trade.