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American Nightmare…tales from Carlin

7 Mar

Lately it may seem that I have been so absorbed in my own personal world that I have been oblivious to the happenings in the world…after all I haven’t done much blogging about world happenings. Today’s post is one that I have been thinking about but until today I just didn’t have the time to put it to paper (or monitor). Yet as I deal with the increasing stressors in my own life and think about how many of them are tied to scarcity, I realized what I am facing is just one sliver of the crazy pie we are being fed against our will.

If you have never seen George Carlin’s American Dream clip, take 3 minutes and check it out. In the bible in the book of Ezekiel 33, reference is made to a watchman who “when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people” well readers in many ways I think foul mouth comic Carlin was probably one of our many watchmen. In his way Carlin told us about the “owners” of this country but I will be damned if many of us just thought this was some hilarious shit being spouted by an old guy.

Well folks, now that we are being told that the country is broke and sacrifices have to be made, it’s awfully funny that everyman/every-woman is being asked to make those sacrifices. In Wisconsin folks are fighting for the right to bargain, in Detroit we are being told half the schools will be closed and classrooms will swell to perhaps as much as 60 kids per class. White guys are feeling like minorities and the madness grows.

Yet as a collective aside from those brave souls in Wisconsin, most of us are sitting back passively struggling to maintain the illusion that all is well when for most of us we know we are living a lie. I think about the fact that in the years since I have started blogging how many real life friends I have had tell me casually how they too are struggling, yet on the surface all looks fine. (So many struggling with basic survival, even down to having to visit local food pantries yet on the surface you would never suspect they had become those people) But because to talk honestly and openly about money in this culture is frowned upon most of us never do it…actually I have found being a big mouth about money and lack thereof has served me well. After all I never would have found out several years ago I was the least paid person on a team of folks despite having the most experience.

Nope, rather than coming together and having unity as a people we would rather maintain illusions and dreams that are nothing more than nightmares and worse case turn on one another. A few days ago when I read the piece about white oppression and the white’s only scholarship; as a Black woman, my first response was a knee jerk reaction rooted in race. Folks this is about more than race, the fact is in America race and color on some levels is so last millennium…the only fucking color that matters is green as in money. If you are part of the ruling class that holds most of the wealth, no one gives a rat’s ass about your race or ethnicity.

However we are too immature to realize that. Instead we can go ahead and see racial tensions flare up as we are all focused on what we see as racism and how whites are not aware of their privilege. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of white folks don’t realize how good the have it compared to people of color. But this is frankly a diversion from the larger issues which are that wages in this country are stagnant, yet the cost of survival has risen and not kept pace. During the real estate boom, sure many folks made boneheaded decisions and used their homes as ATM’s to fund ridiculous shit. But the fact remains that at a time when healthcare cost increased and wages did not keep pace, plenty of people used their homes as ATM’s to supplement what they weren’t earning. Plenty of folks used and are still using credit cards to make ends meet because their wages don’t pay enough plain and simple. Yet we think all is well.

Instead of getting mad and questioning why it is that families can have two college educated wage earners yet still need help for insurance costs because jobs either don’t offer it because we have been sold a bogus dream about being contractors and selling ourselves…very nice scam by the way since its harder to access health insurance and save for retirement when you are a contractor. Or the price is no longer affordable because compared to our grandparents we earn less when adjusted to real dollars. I had a job a few years ago where I had a co-worker struggling to stay insured with our company plan that was costing him $700 a month!

This morning I found myself thinking about how my grandparents who were first generation middle class blacks who worked union factory jobs with high school educations had enough money every year for a yearly vacation to Jamaica or some other fancy locale (fancy for the 60’s and 70’s). These same grandparents had a house with a reasonable mortgage, saved for retirement and had a comfortable middle class life.  Yet now their grandkids (that would be my brother and I who both hold masters degrees) scrape to get by…its already been proven that most likely Gen X probably won’t have it as good as our Baby Boomer parents. Obviously there are exceptions since I know my parents didn’t have it so good but as Black hippies that was more a personal choice rather than a reflection of society.

Nope, the owners of this country are delighted that the masses are fighting, average white guys are mad because they think the Black folks got it good. We got folks who think the school teachers have it good…how dare teachers who already on average are not paid proportional to what they actually do (don’t give me that shit either that they have summers off) are mad because we want to cut into their retirement and health benefits. Hell, even doctors have to adjust to their corporate overlords as this piece in the NY Times talks about.

It’s no coincident that it seems like we have more kids and adults on psychotropic meds (sorta interesting how drugs can advertise too on TV, so you know what drug to ask your doc for), turns out a psychiatrist who wants to get paid is little more than a well educated line worker these days slotting folks into 15 minute segments trying to get the right combination of drugs in that brief period of time…drugs that affect folks minds. This school year I have had several kids at my center who have been put on heavy duty meds and the side affects are heartbreaking. Sadly these are kids whose parents have little in terms of financial resources so if Doc Feel Good says little Johnnie needs XYZ drugs with no actual talk therapy even if the parents wanted to protest lack of access to healthcare with choices and money to pay out of pocket leaves them at the mercy of a guy who only has 15 minutes with their kid. Time is money and if doing your job in a compassionate and honest manner dings your finances, well you have to make a choice.

However all is not lost, the fact that the protesters in Wisconsin are still out there and the Democratic legislators are still in hiding does speak to the quiet fact that many of us are fed the fuck up. The fact that more and more of us are realizing we are not alone in this struggle bodes well for the potential of some real change happening. Not that hope and change Obama used to get us fired up but the type of hope and change that will make the overseers sit up and take notice; after all they need us to work so they can keep getting rich. So it would be in their best interest to break us off a bigger slice of the pie.

Why I support Planned Parenthood

19 Feb

This past week has been a fucking head trip…no, seriously. For readers that follow me on Twitter you know my world has been spinning off its fucking axis. Right now I am trying to just process everything but the short of it is that my Dad is back in Chicago. At some point I will do a post mortem on the blog but right now I just need to process everything.

However it seems that while I have been dealing with family drama, the world has just been going mad. What the fuck is up in Wisconsin? Dear Lawd, we have the governor sending state troopers out to look for Democratic legislatures who are hiding out.

We got the Republicans deciding that Planned Parenthood should get no funding…which is really the point of today’s post. By the way all you Democrats, Independents and whoever else sat out the midterm elections; y’all need to shut the fuck up. See, even when you don’t vote you are indeed voting and now we are seeing our country going ass backwards. But that too is another post.

My relationship to access to health care has always been tenuous at best. I got married and pregnant at 18, as you can imagine I didn’t exactly have health insurance so I had to avail myself to Medicaid which was interesting to say the least. Frankly having Medicaid in my experiences has always been seen as a sign that you deserve lousy medical care after all you are poor and well poor bodies especially poor brown bodies apparently don’t deserve adequate and respectful care when it comes to their bodies. At least that is how most providers treat Medicaid recipients in my experience.

Yet since coming of age there has always been one place I can count on to get my annual exams, birth control, etc and know that I will be treated well. That place is Planned Parenthood. I have used Planned Parenthood in different states and have always been treated well. Back in my 20’s when I needed birth control yet lacked insurance I could get birth control. When I thought I had a lump in my breast, I was seen in a timely fashion and treated with dignity.

I always find it interesting how many folks seem to only equate Planned Parenthood with abortions which yes they do provide and some how only see them as providers of abortions which is patently false. Yet even if that was all they provided, abortion is still a legal procedure and the reasons that women choose abortion are varied. Perhaps some women have been irresponsible, yet we also live in a time that demonizes women who have babies and then need assistance in the form of social services. Well hot damn, women are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. On the other hand do we not believe in this country that people have the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness? If that is the case, then don’t worry what others are doing with their bodies and specifically their wombs…it’s none of your business.

That said until all women have access to good, affordable and respectful services then we will continue to need places like Planned Parenthood. Call me a fool but with states axing services that might mean even the meager services offered via Medicaid will no longer be available and all the more reason that women need access to places like Planned Parenthood. Then there are women who for whatever reason may not be completely broke but simply don’t have a health care provider for their gynecological needs. That pretty much sums up my current situation. I had a lovely midwife who delivered my daughter who decided to retire not long after I have birth so for the past several years I have been trying to find a health care provider I like and trust who I can also afford since I am paying out of pocket. That pretty much means Planned Parenthood since it’s actually down the street from my office, affordable and I actually like them which is more than I can say of a few providers I have had in recent years.

Maybe its because I am a Black woman and maybe its because my Mom died relatively early and started having health issues at approximately the same age I am now but I take addressing my health needs very seriously. After all the stats don’t exactly suggest that Black women in my age demographic are as healthy as they can be yet in order to be healthy there has to be access to services and services that are culturally sensitive which is another piece that I have always liked about Planned Parenthood.

Anyway this current issue hit close to home and I really felt the need to add my voice to chorus of voices rising up over this issue.

How dare you? The story of Kelley Williams-Bolar

26 Jan

For the vast majority of women bringing a child into the world triggers something so deep and so primal within that until we take our last breath we will forever be conditioned to put the health and welfare of our child first. (Obviously there are exceptions) I saw this clearly in my mother’s last weeks and days, after having brain surgery to remove a fast growing tumor, when she finally became conscious she was not the same person she was prior to the surgery. But she never forgot she was a mother, the last conversations she was clearly able to articulate centered on my brother and I, telling my father to remember our birthdays, etc. One of the last conversations she had with me was by phone and she was so weak…yet when the nurse put her on the phone, she whispered daughter.  So weak that she could not utter my given name yet she knew I was her child.  It was at that moment I realized that mothering never stops; it simply changes shape even when our children become adults as I am now learning with my own son.

That said, no matter what our financial circumstances we all want the best for our children. In today’s world we are seeing a revolution in mothering which we see clearly being played out within social media, on television and books. Many women in my generation (Gen X) are refashioning our lives to be the best mothers we can be for our children as evidenced in the rise of stay at home mothers. Yet for women with meager financial resources, doing one’s best can take many forms, going to school so that we can eventually get better paying jobs, etc.

This brings me to Kelley Williams Bolar, a Black mother currently serving a 10 day sentence in Ohio. Her crime? Sending her children to an out of district school as her local school was neither safe nor adequate. Ms. Williams-Bolar made the choice to do the best for her kids by sending her kids to an out of district suburban school that incidentally her father, the kid’s grandfather resides in. However this is a crime. The reality though is that this sort of thing has been going on forever, perhaps if schools were not funded so unfairly in our nation a parent would not have to make the decision to break the law in order to make sure that their kids receive an adequate education.

I won’t say that Williams-Bolar didn’t break the law but her punishment for a crime that if we are honest is victimless is 10 days in jail, probation and community service. More importantly because she was convicted of a felony, she now risks being disqualified to teach. See, Williams-Bolar is a senior in college looking to pursue a career in education; she currently works as a teacher’s aide. Apparently the judge wanted to make an example out of Williams-Bolar and deter others from skirting the law. Now as you can guess, the area Williams-Bolar resides in is predominantly Black and poor and the schools she sent her kids to was predominantly white and middle class.

There are some who are saying that race should not be an issue, but let’s be honest. Do you think this would have happened had Williams-Bolar been white? Of course not! Oh, she may have been caught and there may have been repercussions but a felony? Not likely.

While mothering and motherhood is simply not valued in this culture, I think it’s even less valued when the mother is a woman of color. Historically Black women were not allowed to mother our own kids; instead we were forced to mother other’s kids. It’s why the image of the Mammy still exists, we are seen as mothers of others but not our own kids. I think this is why it’s shocking to some when we see a Black mother fighting to mother her own kids and give the best we can to our kids. It’s why Black stay at home Moms are still perceived as oddities even in solidly middle class neighborhoods. It’s why when a Black mom shows up to be a class helper or accompany the class to the field trip we are looked at with skepticism. Its why even in the blogosphere there are literally only a handful of mothers of color whose blogs are highly rated and last time I checked while there are plenty of Mamas who have turned mothering into a money making venture with blogs that are producing real income and book deals. I have yet to see a Black or Latina mother receive these same accolades and rewards. Our mothering is simply not valued. This along with classism and racism is why Kelly Williams-Bolar is sitting in a jail cell as I type this separated from her kids with her future looking not too bright.

The only real crime in my eyes that Kelley is guilty of is wanting a better life for her kids yet doing that in a system that does not value her as a mother, a woman and most certainly a poor person.

Kiss my Butt….really?

15 Jan

“Kiss my Butt” How many times have you been in a meeting with someone and just wanted to say that to someone who was working your last nerve? Truth be told at least once a week I want to tell someone to kiss my ass and walk out. But alas I try to keep it classy so generally when those moments come up, I make that pinched face smile and deal with the situation at hand like an adult. After all I am almost 40 years old and one would like to think by a certain stage in life you learn a little tact.

Apparently though my state’s new governor, Paul LePage missed that piece in his developmental growth and when asked why he was not honoring a 30 year tradition set by his predecessors of attending the annual NAACP MLK day events here in Maine. He decided to go off on a one minute tantrum that was caught on tape where he referred to the NAACP as a “special interest group”, told us he had a Black son and eventually said that folks meaning the NAACP could kiss his butt. Now maybe LePage is not clear how things work in 2011 but in a fast moving world where one week a man can be begging on the side of the road and 7 days later being showered in offers for jobs and houses. Telling anyone much less the nation’s oldest civil rights group to kiss your butt when you are the leader of state even a small state like Maine gets everyone’s attention.

Needless to say us colored folks in Maine are scratching our heads but considering this man during the campaign season was caught on tape saying he would tell Obama to go to hell and frankly has a manner more becoming for a bar owner rather than a governor…are we really surprised?

Truthfully I am not involved with the NAACP in Maine but the minority community in Maine is small and in many ways all roads lead to the NAACP. Though the fair governor who thus far, despite letting us know he has a Black son could care less. By the way we didn’t see too much of this adopted son during the campaign season. Hell during the actual inauguration he had the brotha man so far back on the stage I thought he was a security guard. Hell the good governor whipped up a feeding frenzy by giving his daughter a well paying job before he was even sworn in…hey! What about the Black kid? I suspect having Paul as a Dad when you are the Black son might be like having been one of Joan Crawford kids. You get brought out for the photo ops and then taken back to the big house where hopefully you aren’t beaten with a wire hanger.

However as a Black chick living in Maine and nope I am not a native, I am a Chicago girl through and through but this is my adopted home. I have to just say publicly that the vast majority of Mainers are good folks and Lepage who only won by one percentage point because the Dumbocrats and the Independents split the vote does not represent the average Mainer. Due to my work I meet all kinds of folks and most of em have good hearts. So don’t let the ranting of a crazy man think that we are being set back and hell if you don’t live here…come visit and shit bring the catfish!

We are all responsible

10 Jan

This week’s tragedy in Arizona is just heartbreaking; there are really no other words to describe it. I mean you have a Congresswoman out and about connecting with her constituents and in the blink of an eye, 6 people are dead and many others are hurt.

Since Saturday’s tragedy, I have heard many people talk about this but the one thing no one has really said is in some ways we all play a role in incidents like this. I mean yeah it’s easy to lay blame at the feet of folks like Sarah Palin and Glen Beck with their divisive and explosive words. Hell, it’s even easy to say that the alleged gunman is mentally ill. He may indeed have some mental health issues, after all mentally healthy people generally don’t decide to go on a shooting spree.

No, the fact is as a society and a culture we are not really nice people and in some ways we are all responsible for creating a climate where its easy for hate to fester and folks to become disconnected from others to the point that guns are shot. We can say that the talking heads on TV and radio are using language that incites but the truth is even those of us who consider ourselves more compassionate, etc often still resort to language that is less than compassionate. Most of us no matter what we may say and I am most certainly guilty of it at times see those who don’t follow our thought process and views as less than. Oh, we may humor people with other views but often we are condescending and downright snarky though we may think we are merely sarcastic. Better yet we think we are teaching those with different views than ours but really we are not.

Too many times I have seen even online people “argue” with people they don’t even know forcing their views on to others. It’s no wonder in a nation that is falling apart where the gulf between the have and have-nots is widening that some people fall prey to the rhetoric of the Glen Becks and Sarah Palin’s?  If you actually ever listen to them, they use a down home manner that makes the listener believe someone is listening to them. Deep down we all want to be heard and have our views validated. This is not to say we must validate what we are opposed to but everyone deserves to be heard.

As many of us are doing the weekly dance to survive in these economically challenging times, how many of us take time to pay attention to others and listen? Better yet if we notice something is amiss we actually do something? I was flipping the channels yesterday and on one of the news channels they had a woman who claimed to be a neighbor of the alleged shooter and she stated it was a shame no one noticed the red flags that were waving about this young man’s behavior. Yet I have read several pieces just in the Sunday New York Times that spoke about the alleged shooter displaying odd behavior in school to the point of getting expelled. Call me crazy but that seems like a huge red flag.

We live in a culture where giving our ten year olds cellular phones to stay connected is the norm, yet as families and friends we are so disconnected that no one notices when a son, nephew, cousin, friend is standing on the brink of disaster and plotting destruction. This is not a slam on the parents of the alleged shooter but more an observation that as a society we can spend hours “connecting” with people we may never meet yet we miss the real connections right under our noses.

It is easy to fall into the trap of laying blame at the feet of others when tragedies like this occur but the truth is until we all decide to better connect with the world around us we are at risk of more folks running off and doing crazy things like this.

In some ways we need to take the attitudes of the airline industries to heart in our personal lives. I think the reason we have not had any repeat 9/11 situations is more about the fact that when we fly we are now aware of our surroundings and we act on it. The reason the shoe bomber was stopped a few years ago is because fellow passengers were alert, aware and acted on what they saw. Admittedly there may be times when folks flub up, as was the case sometime back when a traveler with diarrhea was deemed suspicious. By and large though when folks step into airports and onto airplanes they realize that their safety and well being depends less on the machines that screen us and more on us taking responsibility if the occasion should arise.

In our daily lives I think that means being mindful of what we say and do, how we treat others and if we see someone struggling it means being a compassionate person and doing something. Maybe it’s alerting authorities, maybe it’s trying to get someone help but maybe its just being there so that people don’t reach that point where they want to harm others.

Slow Down

27 Dec

As I type this, the East Coast of the United States is being hammered by a huge snow storm, just looking out my window I see a good foot of snow that will need to be moved at some point if we wish to exit our house but at the moment I am in no rush. There is more snow expected, the wind is blowing and shit its cold. I heard the storm was approaching a good 24 hours before it hit so I went out yesterday made sure we were fully stocked and prepared for a change in plans this week. In other words sit down and relax because when Mother Nature decides to flex her muscles there isn’t a damn thing we can do about it.

I won’t lie; it took me a while to reach this point. Coming from Chicago where we are used to fierce winter weather and snow rarely did make us slow down. I still remember the day some years ago I was slated to start a new job and the city was walloped with snow and my new boss was mad that after I stood and waited an hour and a half in the snow for a bus that never came, I went back home and explained that I could not make it in. Looking back I am still shaking my head over that incident but at the time I was living in that matrix of rush rush and took it as a human failing that I couldn’t walk the mile to the train to make it in my first day.

Yet last night and this morning as I spent time on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and even flipping on CNN, its clear that many folks just don’t know how to slow down even when there is a blinking neon sign in this case snow telling us to do so. Instead we whip ourselves into frenzy over what we can’t do because we are snowbound, not realizing that days like this are a gift. Life is short and while we live a fast paced high tech life the fact is all our days are limited. Just last night the world learned that Teena Marie the amazing soul singer died at the seemingly young age of 54. 54 may seem young yet since very few people actually live to oh say 108, 54 is not that young. More importantly is that despite the fact many of us do live longer thanks to medical intervention; funny thing about life is no one knows when their last day on this planet will be.

No, we lead busy lives sometimes never hearing our own thoughts and emotions because we are constantly plugged in, multi-tasking and planning ahead. So when we encounter a day that forces us to slow down, it challenges us. Obviously if you had to head into work today, you do what you have to do, yet if the snow has given you the gift of a day off, revel in it. I posted earlier today on Twitter, go out and play in that snow even if you don’t have kids. When is the last time you had a snowball fight? Made a snow angel? Sounds hokey as hell but a few winters ago I surrendered to a snow day and in the end got pelted with snow, made a snow angel and basically reconnected with that little girl I forgot all about.

So many of us are stressed and even burnt out as we juggle competing demands from bosses, kids, lovers, and the list goes on. So we turn to yoga, meditation, therapy, even medicine and as someone who has used all these items to deal with stress in my own life so I have no issues with them but we fail to see the beauty in free time. True free time, unscheduled days where we have no plans other than to live in the moment and take whatever comes our way in that moment. So if you are feeling stressed about the snow, I suggest you release, relax and enjoy the moment. Even if you are stuck in an airport trying to get home, rather than seeing the inconvenience of the moment, look at what you do have…see it as a chance for unplanned opportunities.

Slow down…

Class, Privilege and Black Friday

26 Nov

I had no intentions of blogging today, figured I’d take the day off and relax with the family. But today’s post was inspired by one of my favorite folks on Twitter and it actually made me think. Today is Black Friday, a day that in recent years has become synonymous with great bargains and the possibility of getting trampled if you are trying to shop at a store that serves a rowdy clientele and has bargains too good to resist. In many ways Black Friday has become a great joke for the economically comfortable. Granted there are many solidly middle class folks that like to go out and shop on Black Friday but for working class folks, the deals touted on Black Friday may be the only way some families will be able to afford gifts.

Now I know many folks who will say but why do they feel the need to feed the shopping machine in the first place? Good question but that’s a different discussion for a different day. However as someone who spent the first 18 years of her life working class in a good year, let me tell you the holidays despite the interpersonal strife and conflict often times represented the only time of the year that some of my needs and wants got met. Working with low income families for many years now, I will say things haven’t changed much for the poor and or working class.

In solidly middle class and higher families, good food, enriching toys and clothing needs and desires are met throughout the year. Yet for people who struggle to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, that is often not their reality. It was just over a year ago that this reality hit home with me when I was working with some of the kids that attend my after school program and we were working with paints. Not terribly expensive paints by any stretch of the imagination anyhoo one of the girl’s parents called and she was upset that she had to leave the project we were working on. So very thoughtlessly, I suggested maybe she could paint at home and she explained she had no paints at home. Recently two of my younger kids asked if they could take some crayons home to color with as they had no crayons at home with which to color with. As a parent who tries to keep a stocked craft cabinet for my own child, my heart broke then I remembered that I don’t recall ever having any paints at home myself when I was a child. I can’t even imagine that it dawned on my parents that they should provide me with paints. I suspect in their minds they figured my painting needs were met at school plus they probably didn’t have the resources to obtain paints and other art/craft supplies for me.

Just yesterday while killing time on Twitter, I’d say 25% of the folks I follow were railing against Thanksgiving as a bullshit holiday. I won’t deny it’s a bullshit holiday and most of us were taught a false holiday that whitewashed the brutality and sheer evil that is at the heart of Thanksgiving. Yet like Christmas celebrations how many people even think about the historical roots of the holiday? Nope, for many it’s just a pig-out day to spend with loved ones or people you are suppose to love. Yet for those who live with financial and food insecurity, its one of the few days that in many cases you can have more than enough food complete with treats.

One of the shittiest things about my job at times is that during the holiday season I am inundated with folks offering help for the needy, free meals, free toys, free clothes…you get the picture. Yet ask me where this help is in July? Yeah…can’t tell ya because I don’t see it. But in November and December offers of help flows like booze with the cast of Jersey Shore and you can be damn sure I see to it that people are able to get their needs met.

Yet there are folks who are not among the neediest so agencies like mine generally can’t help them, so what’s a working stiff to do when they want or need a new television set? Wait like hell for the deals and hope they can snap up that TV. I admit as someone whose main telly is on the brink I almost sent the Spousal Unit out to brave the crowds at Wally World since a 19” TV for $99 is quite a steal. We don’t shun television in this house and by most folk’s standards our TV’s are modest, I have an old 13” in my bedroom and a 22” in the living room, that’s it. No bells or whistles, and considering that televisions these days are quite costly I can sympathize with those who feel the need to get up early to snag a good deal. Shit, it’s getting harder and harder to make the shekels stretch…if giving up a night of sleep to get needs and wants taken care of works for some, who the hell am I to judge?

Admittedly I have in the past said not too nice things about Black Friday but for me it’s always been more about the mob mentality that seems to surface. On the other hand maybe it says something deeper about us as a society that we allow what used to be a benign day to become such a crazy thing. After all I don’t recall hearing about violence happening as a result of shopping on Black Friday back in the 1980’s or even 1990’s. I think as we live in such rapid paced times we are pushed to our breaking point. Living in a time when even before the Great Recession there was such opulence or so we thought yet for the real man or woman on the streets they saw their real wages stagnate, health insurance go up and basically started using their houses and credit cards to supplement with the Boss man didn’t pay so that their ends could meet. In such situations how can you not expect people to go a little crazy?

Perhaps all of us including myself need to look at root causes for why days like Black Friday bring out the worst in humanity. Sure it’s easy to say well folks don’t need this or that; all the while you are typing from the comfort of your home with your latest piece of iGadgetry.

At the end of the day, we all want good food, a warm house, clothing, love and maybe even a few extras however we define those extras, for some it’s iGadgets, Kitchen-Aid mixers and so on…yet who are we to judge someone else’s desires? Yet our ability to have these things will depend in large part on where we sit on the socio-economic ladder and even a decision of whether or not to brave crowds on Black Friday versus shopping on Cyber Monday from the comforts of our home and or office will depend on what we have access to.  Just some food from thought from a lifetime card carrying member of the working class.

Week in review or a world gone mad

20 Nov

Well hello dear readers! Long time no write. To say the past week has been hectic would be an understatement, my personal world was going crazy at the same time the world in general seems to be losing it’s mind. Got plans to fly this upcoming week to share some turkey and trimmings? It seems before you get on the plane you will have to decide whether you want to be scanned and have your whole body on display to some unseen TSA worker or get the more personal treatment and get felt up by some wanna be Robocop in a bad uniform wearing gloves. Of you can go the John Tyner route and raise a little hell and insure that you won’t be eating turkey with loved ones and then face investigation and a possible fine. I gotta be honest as someone who only flies when it’s absolutely necessary, these changes are making it even less likely I will be flying anytime soon. You want to touch my junk then we need to know each other or you better be hot as hell.

What is it with Sarah Palin and her progeny? Good gravy, for a woman with no job, she gets around like a blunt at a stoner party. We have Bristol on Dancing with the Stars and the other Palin girl tossing gay slurs around like farts after too much fiber intake. Someone please make these women go away…far the fuck away.

In my world, I have learned a valuable lesson…hiring a bad employee is a real time suck. If you recall a few months ago I had to hire some folks for the agency I run. Well after 6 weeks of training someone who I admit was a questionable hire, the bottom fell out. The worker was not a good fit and I found myself this week planning on firing her but she did me a solid and quit with no notice. Integrity….does it even exist anymore?

I know we live in a time and day when everyone is looking out for self and maybe it’s a sign of my getting old, I can’t fault anyone for taking a position that pays more…been there myself more than once in my career. On the other hand it’s not what we do, it’s often how we do things that speaks to our character and who we are. In my case the former employee rather than being upfront, drug things out by calling in at the last minute for several days. Considering I work with at risk kids who need stability such behavior has a shitty effect on the kids also the former employee due to lackluster performance came close to jeopardizing several projects. Thankfully I realized ahead of time and planned ahead but it’s come at the cost to my own family and putting in way more hours over the past week to play catch up. Anyway vent over…wish her well.

In other news, my Dad is officially moving in with me, we have confirmed dates and I admit I am getting nervous. Yet as the Spousal Unit reminded me this move is the right thing…damn, being a grown up is hard as hell. I won’t lie right about now I long for the days when I could just be free to do me but there are times as an adult when we simply have to do what’s right. It’s like the Cod Liver oil I take daily, the shit is nasty yet it’s good for me.

So that’s all that is shaking in my world. Catch ya on the flipside and here is hoping next week there will be a little more time for blogging.

ETA:  It seems my links are being a tad wonky I will try to fix these as soon as possible.


1 Nov

Just zooming by, but in case you are confused, you have a voice and you can make it heard by doing this one thing….get up tomorrow (Nov 2) and vote. Sitting at home and not voting also sends a message and it may be one you really end up hating. No excuses, vote.

Sure you voted in 2008, helped Obama get elected, that’s nice but you need to vote NOW.

This message brought to you by the Black Girl in Maine who really does not want to live in a land of the crazies.


Open season on those pesky poor folks

18 Oct

Despite the fancy words that the powers to be use to tell us that economically things are getting better in the US, most of recognize a con job when we hear it. The truth is there simply are not enough full time jobs for all the folk looking for them and that is not even taking into consideration all the new entrants into the work force. I suspect we don’t really have a good idea how many folks are jobless or underemployed. I do think it’s safe to say that the go-go days of the early 2000’s are but a distant memory and something we will tell our grandkids about when we talk about how the US went down the tubes.

I do know though that when times get tough rather than working together for the collective good, human nature often makes us hold tight to what we do have and in some cases get quite judgmental of those who are without.

Here in Maine, we are just a few weeks away from electing a new governor and let me tell you its crazy time. We have a slate of 5 candidates running and the 2 major party candidates in my humble opinion leave a lot to be desired. One of the independents is starting to look promising to me but I fear that he will split the vote with the Democratic candidate and we are going to get stuck with the crazy Republican Paul LePage. LePage is crazy, thus far he has shown that anger management is something he lacks and that he often he forgets where he lives since he and his wife filed homestead exceptions in both Maine and Florida. LePage happens to be the general manager of a chain of salvage shops in Maine that while they employ a lot of folks they keep the wages low and don’t offer a hell of a lot in terms of benefits. Yet Mr. LePage talks a good game of how if he is elected he will be getting the welfare cheats off of welfare, in fact it appears that LePage is one of those lucky bootstrap fellas that worked his way up and gosh darn it if he can do it so can the rest of the other poor bastards.

Such talk about ridding welfare of the cheats and making everyone work sounds good and it’s appealing so much so that LePage seems to be emerging as a front-runner in the race. This week the state’s largest paper is talking about the welfare system in Maine and it’s definitely worth a read even if you aren’t a Mainer. I have been working with low income folks going on 15 years now and if I had a buck for every time someone tells me about some person they know on welfare that is cheating the system I probably could take that dream vacation to Paris that I have been dreaming of lately. In all my years of work I can count on one hand the number of folks I thought may have been cheating the system.

Perhaps it goes back to the days of Ray Gun Ronnie when he whipped up a frenzy about the mythical Black woman on welfare driving a Caddy in the 1980’s but for a segment of Americans they truly believe their fellow Americans who receive assistance are just milking the system. Never mind that Bill Clinton killed welfare as we knew it and created in it’s place a safety net program that started off with holes and now has gaping rips. Of course in the 1990’s we were optimistic that the good times would always roll…never thinking about the fact that continuous growth is just not possible and it damn sure is not possible when we ship all the good paying jobs to 3rd world countries so we can maximize the profits for the company owners and board of directors. Oh in the 2000’s we were still playing that game of illusion that all was good but that was before the credit bubble went pop.

Yet it makes folks feel better to shit on the poor and assume they are poor because they are lazy and shiftless…never mind the fact that if you had to live off say $600 a month even with food stamps and reduced rent via a Section 8 apartment how well would you live? No, we want our poor to work hard for their pennies! Go slave away at an $8 an hour job, a job that pays so little that in most cases the worker still qualifies for some type of benefits.

Now the poor are not even being allowed agency to determine their drink choices if New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg has his way. Bloomberg is trying to get permission from the feds to ban food stamp recipients from purchasing soda…look no one is saying soda is a great thing, it has no nutritional value and some might consider it a waste of money. I will be honest and say I enjoy an occasional soda. Why? Life is short and I like to do things that bring me pleasure. I suspect most of us have things we enjoy drinking or eating that offer no nutritional value yet we still partake, otherwise how else can you explain the rise of Starbucks? Very few things that Starbucks offers are truly healthy. Shit, you can go and get a drink with a calorie equivalent to a meal yet as Starbucks is frequented by folks who are middle class and above there is no rallying cry to help those folks. I bet Bloomberg most likely enjoys the occasional latte yet as lattes are the purview of people we figure are financially better off even if it’s simply because they have better access to credit, no one slams those choices.

Nope, we like to make the matter of poor folks a morality issue. If people are poor it’s easier to assess individual blame and assume these folks need guidance or to be told what to do rather than looking at the larger systems that create poor people. That is why a guy who runs a chain of stores that most certainly do not assist folks in rising up from poverty can convince folks he is the guy best suited to cut the fat in state spending. It’s why folks can get behind soda bans all the while sipping on a mocha which isn’t much better and say we care about nutrition.

Perhaps we would all be better off if we acknowledged that unless you are a member of the wealth holding community that our fates and lives are far more intertwined than we would care to admit. Real change happens when we band together and create policies that benefit us all, after all I wonder how many of todays newly poor are realizing that we have insufficient safety nets and that once you tumble into poverty what you need is a hand up and compassion not legislation.