19 February 2016

Entitled to be Human

In response to a comment to this article:

"She made poor decisions and now wants taxpayers to pay for it?  Arrogant  person..."

This woman made decisions that society encouraged and then demonized. In her senior year with scholarships to FOUR colleges she became pregnant. Instead of an abortion she chose to give birth, something the right to life groups encourage, however, once she chose to raise the baby the demonization started. Originally it was a two parent home but after her boyfriend left not only was she a single parent working hard and paying her "fair share" - federal and state taxes but she was doing it without government safety nets. She then applied for Section 8 (with years on the waiting list), to help make life easier - to try and get a boost up. She wants what any parent wants - a clean, safe home, good schools, a safe neighborhood and a chance at upward mobility for herself and her children. Are these wrong for an American, a human, to want and strive for? 
What exactly do we promote within our society - empathy, love and humanity or indifference, cruelty and hatred toward our fellow man? Does dropping a donation in the church basket or writing a cheque to a charity absolve us of compassion to the poor, the homeless, the hungry? Why does the color of a persons skin, where they live, if they are impoverished or if they speak with an accent matter? If they are good people who just want a better life, the same life you strive for, it should not. I hear people speak to the fact that they are not biased against the poor/lower-middle class yet they begrudge those who access the safety nets that were put in place to help exactly these people. When did Americans become so resentful of the people we once were? The immigrants, the working poor, the disabled, the elderly, the generations that were our grandparents and great-grandparents, they still exist, struggling to survive. I believe Lady Liberty speaks these words not just to arriving immigrants but to America's residents as well: 
"Give me your tired, your poor,Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
I see people who want a better life held back only because on some level society has deemed them unworthy of success because they need a helping hand. People need a helping hand sometimes and not everyone has a family, a church or religious/secular group to help, or the ability to work more than one job and at the same time attempt to further their education. Sometimes the 'Government' does need to help that is why these safety nets were created and that is why they DO work. The Social Safety Net of the United States is made up of 13 categories of Federal Welfare Programs to protect low-income Americans from poverty and hardship. Eligibility for welfare benefits depends on a variety of factors, including gross and net income, family size, pregnancy, homelessness, unemployment, and serious medical conditions like blindness, kidney failure or AIDS. The programs are meant to be a safety net to catch Americans if they fall on hard times. They are: Negative Income Tax, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), Housing Assistance, SSI (Supplemental Security Income), Pell Grants, TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), Child Nutrition, Head Start, Job Training Programs, WIC (Women, Infants and Children), Child Care, LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program), Lifeline (Obama Phone). Whether you despise the idea of "entitlements" and deem them unfair you must admit that children, who are the majority of the recipients, deserve food, shelter and a stable living environment. We are ALL human, are we not? 

13 February 2016


 She hasn't spoken to me in over a year and it was pretty sporadic before that. I love her - I always will. I don't know if she loves me, likes me, hates me or is indifferent to me. I won't ever know unless she decides to reach out in some way. I feel bad for her because I really can't think of what I could have done to cause this rift. Except. Well, there is one thing. Our Dad died in 2009 and I called her that weekend and told her he had taken a turn for the worse and was not expected to make it. She said she didn't have the money to fly out and I told her I would pay for the ticket. When she stopped contact in 2015 she still owed me about $300. She had paid $25 here and there but when I would ask if she was sending a cheque she would lie or plead poor. If she had just said she had no intention of paying me back it would have been easier all around. I had expenses of my own and it was a hardship for me to pay for her ticket but she is my sister and that was our father dying. I wonder if roles had been reversed...

I'm making excuses for someone who is selfish.  About 1 month before my dad passed he had a conversation with me about my sister. He looked me in the eye and told me to stop buying my sister gifts(I had a habit of buying her things I thought she would like but not purchase for herself). He said she was selfish and cared for no one but herself and all the presents in the world would not buy her love or her friendship. He acknowledged that while she was his daughter and he loved her - he and my mother had not raised her that way and he could not understand why she was the way she was and it bothered him. The situation with the plane ticket should not have been a surprise but it is fascinating that it was related to my father and what he said. My sister did not disappoint.

I have an uncle who always treated me well to my face but privately told his children to keep their distance because I was "crazy" - I'm bipolar. Here's the best part his daughter was diagnosed as bipolar in college - she told me herself. I guess it rubbed off after all. He and my dad were estranged  in later years and my dad never knew why. The day before my dad died I called his brother to let him know the doctor's didn't think dad would last thru the next day and his response, his only response was... "that's too bad". What a dick. That was always the way my dad's family was - he was the black sheep - he was the kind one.
My uncle's wife is not much better. It's been 6 yrs and she sends me a friend request on Facebook - I said yes.  I would send her funny memes and comment on her posts but she never responded. She would respond to similar things posted by her other friends who happen to include my sister (who has me blocked due to the plane ticket fiasco) but not me so the other day I un-friended her and she proceeded to ask me what was up in a PM. I told her I didn't know what she wanted and it seemed we were already not friends - she wrote back saying it was my decision and she hoped I would be happy. After 24 hrs I put out a friend request to her because I thought maybe I had been rash. As I was clicking I noticed this on her board:

So I figured this was supposed to be about me. It was - she gave me a few more hours before she blocked me. Passive-aggressive anyone? I'm not sure how I'm deemed angry and looking for conflict - all I wanted to know was why after 6 yrs of no contact did she reach out on FB but never talk to me (she did stalk though - that I know for certain) Her meme is apropos  because it actually has more to do with her and my sister - who made this comment on it:

My sister who hasn't spoken with me or our mother in over a year because she had to make us the bad ones over a plane ticket to her father's funeral. My sister is a recovering alcoholic, anorexic and bulimic who blamed everyone else for her problems. 
My sister is the source of her conflict.
She is the angry one.
My aunt and my uncle they are the source of their conflict. 
They are the angry ones. 
I'm not the healthiest but I'm not crazy and I'm in therapy working thru my issues. I can't speak for them but the last time I had talked to my sister "she did not have time for therapy." My sister is an RN - she's not dumb nor is she poor but as my dad said she is selfish.
I pity her and my extended family - it is their loss.

12 February 2016

The Return of Jim Crow

I watched ‘Selma’ the other night. I found myself cheering and clapping and crying along with the heroes of Voting Rights history. That was 1965 and racism was out in the open. As horrible a time as it was at least they were honest. Now it’s 2016 and racism is here but it is a festering underbelly. The children and grandchildren of those who fought against Equal Rights and the Voting Act see their elders actions as a different kind of “Patriotism”; just as the Confederate flag is still argued to be a symbol of historic pride. During the film they show actual footage of the Selma march. Southerners line the roads, taunting the marchers, spitting on them and giving them the finger all while waving the Confederate flag - yes that really shows the truth behind such an iconic piece of Southern history. A Southern woman, a few years younger than me, has told me with pride that her parents were activists against desegregation and equal rights. Another tells how she could be friendly with black girls at school but they were not to be brought home, this 15+ years after Jim Crow was officially over.

I’ve been told that if people went and got better-paying jobs there would be no need to make the minimum wage a living wage. There is a disconnection between a white person with higher education and poor people, who are mainly black and don’t have the same educational opportunities. The idea that anyone who is a head of household and is working two jobs because one job won’t afford full-time hours and even then that two jobs don't pay a living wage and is still be below the poverty level is foreign to many Americans.

Private and/or religious schools popped up everywhere in the South during desegregation, due to white's not wanting their children to go to school with black children. The quality of education plummeted for poor whites who could not afford the better private schools. We see that still in the South but with a slight shift. Poor and lower-middle class whites and blacks are held at arms length by upper-middle and upper-class whites that are able to extricate themselves from the public school system and put their children into private and/or religious schools. While public schools struggle to maintain federal standards of education private religious schools teach biblically centered subjects that leave a whole new generation ignorant and private preparatory schools to cater to those with the cash. School vouchers are just exacerbating the problem by keeping sub-par private religious schools afloat by injecting much-needed cash into their reserves.

Voting Rights are being restricted through uncompromising voter ID laws. A total of 36 states have passed laws requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls. 33 of these voter identification laws are in force in 2016. A photo ID can be a significant burden and such laws intrinsically discriminate against minorities, students and the elderly. North Carolina now mandates government-issued photo IDs at the polls, the bill does provide for a "free ID" to be offered at DMVs but it is difficult for those without transportation or the appropriate paperwork to get one. The state's early voting period was reduced from 17 to 10 days. "First of all, we didn't shorten early voting, we compacted the calendar," said Governor McCrory. The law also ended same-day registration and pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-old voters who will be 18 on Election Day.

What also doesn't help is when you have a Presidential candidate spewing bigotry and racism among people that are already twisted with fear and hate. He allows them to think that it is ok to release their repressed hostility because he, a "respectable" businessman and Presidential front-runner, not only speaks to their fears of the "others" but encourages their brutality as well. Mr Trump puts forth statements, conjecture, assumed to be true by his supporters and the persons that are the focus of his diatribes are demonized and sometimes physically attacked. The color-bar seen at his rallys is a darker mindset that is giving a new face to Jim Crow.

These and other issues are what America needs to address in order to deal with the vehement hatred that is permeating our country. Jim Crow is alive and well and is coming out of the closet again after 50 years to see what mayhem he can accomplish.

11 February 2016


 We need to be less afraid of what others think of us and be who we are. In the end, we will all die so why not live your life to the fullest, celebrating who you are? My mother always said that unless someone is putting the air into your lungs then you shouldn't worry about their opinion of you. Odd, yes, but overall makes sense - no one controls you but you. 

You know who you are - the real you. Whether you identify as a boy or a girl, in-between or nothing at all, it is all about you. Who you love and what you identify as, gay, straight, bisexual, asexual or any of the myriad used to describe sexual attraction without gender assignment, is all about you. Wear the clothes that make you feel beautiful, be a totally fabulous drag queen, be gender neutral - keep them guessing. Long hair or short, even bald if you choose because it is about being comfortable in your own skin and you are the only one living in it.

 No one else no matter how hard they try can make the decision for you. The politicians can legislate, religious leaders and their flocks can pass judgement, family, friends and neighbors can ostracize, strangers in the street can be the assholes they tend to be but in the end, the end of the day and the long road known as life, you know who the real you is and you must be true to yourself. 

Don't give up. Remain strong in the face of adversity. Seek out like-minded people. If you need to, create a new family of people who love you for who the real you is. Take joy in being who you are, honor yourself every day and in every way and above all else - have no fear.

07 February 2016

The People That Complain About Others

The people that complain about the "others" on welfare, unemployment, food stamps, disability, Medicaid are the ones who never had to rely on our nation's safety nets. They are the lucky ones who had family and friends to help out when times were tough or, even better, never had tough times. My family was one of the 'lucky' ones - two daughters with mental illness (I had bipolar depression and the other with anorexia/bulimia) and the doctor and hospital bills totaled in the thousands after insurance stopped paying. My father lost his job with the bank he worked for - this was before banks were too big to fail. We would have lost our house if it wasn't for two relatives that loaned my parents money for their mortgage(paid back in full). Friends and relatives gave us food baskets. Eventually my dad got a job - pumping gas at Bridgeport airport for minimum wage($5/hr then) and my mom got a job at a hospital cleaning OR's. Within two years my dad was back working at a corporation making half what he had made at the bank but he was thankful for a living wage and health insurance because he had been diagnosed with his 1st round of cancer. My family survived because we had family and friends that could help us but if they had not been there or had been unwilling we would have had to rely on our nation's safety nets, just like thousands of others. No one should be humiliated and made to jump through hoops to receive aid that more than likely they have already paid into. I do not begrudge anyone on welfare, unemployment, food stamps, disability, Medicaid or any other government aid because my family has been there and I am there now and none of us is any better than the other - just luckier.

04 February 2016

Truth and Trust

 We raise our children with the idea that they will trust and be truthful. I don't think we instruct them, correctly, in either. Trust is to be earned not inherently given. A child does not know that some adults and other children will take advantage of them to serve their own purposes. "I want what you have - be it a toy, candy or your body." "Give me what I want and I won't hurt you or your brother, sister or your parents." How is a child to know how or who to trust if they are not taught but expected to make decisions based on little to no information about real world situations? If we gave them the tools to speak up, to know that it's your body, your mind and that no one has the right to talk to you, touch you, tell you what is right or wrong for you. No stranger, friend or family member has the right to bully, abuse, molest or harass anyone. If we can't, don't or won't teach trust then how can we expect our children to be truthful? A child will be unable to talk about behaviors of others and themselves to responsible adults and/or peers if the fear of disbelief is present. That no matter what they try to say or explain it will be shrugged off or discounted. That they just won't have the words to make their case because they don't know that the behavior towards them is inappropriate. That the victim will 'become' the offender.  Just because it is a learned behavior does not make it appropriate. Bullying, eating disorders, self-harm, abuse: sexual, physical, verbal and emotional, drugs and alcohol, neglect, depression all add up to children who become adults who cannot trust and do not know the truth.