A Pop Cultural Analysis of Tom and Jerry’s Zoot Cat

As a child, one of my daily pleasures was cartoons. Oh how I loved them! Woody Woodpecker, Bugs Bunny and Friends, Magilla Gorilla, Heckle and Jeckle, Mighty Mouse, Scooby Doo, The Superfriends. The list goes on and on but my favorite cartoon was Tom and Jerry. Everyday I would tune in to see Tom get his ass beat by a clever mouse named Jerry and I would cackle madly but what I did not realize is how funny these cartoons would be when I watched them as an adult.

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This past Friday, I was surfing the Internet and discovered some pictures from the Tom and Jerry episode “Zoot Cat” and I was tickled pink. These pictures bought so many childhood memories so I decided to watch the cartoon in its entirety and Lawd!!!!!!!!!! It was a study in Blackness. The episode starts with Tom getting ready to see a fine little cat he likes and he is slicking back his hair with lard. Not water but lard. That was downright niggerish for real.

Then he go over to the young lady’s house, pours his heart out and presents Jerry as a present and she lights his ass up like the fourth of July. I don’t care what anyone says, that girl cat is a Black woman because a Black woman can cut a motherfucker up like no other. She even called him a corny corn husker.

After his face is cracked and on the ground, and after chasing Jerry in another futile chase that left him dazed and confused, he over hears a radio commercial about how getting a zoot suit would change his life so he pulls a Scarlett O’Hara and makes himself a zoot suit made of the orange and green hammock on the girl’s porch.

He goes back to Toot’s house, all fancy and shit, and she falls in love with him with her shallow, superficial ass. And of course Jerry gets into the mix and he and Tom spend most of the cartoon fighting and tearing up this cat’s house. That typical hood shit for nigglins to come to a person’s house and tear shit up.

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In the end, Tom did not get the girl because he was stupid and Jerry ended up with his suit and probably took Toots disloyal ass too. But this cartoon is one of the funniest because it showed human nature at its worst: trifling.

 

A Christmas Tale

my mommy

Christmas has lost a lot of its sparkle for me since my mother died nine years ago in the month of December. There have been times, I have literally just wanted to curl up in a corner and just weep during this season but I have to keep going. Not just for me but my children and grandson. For her too because she made an incredible come back the Christmas season of 1978. Here it goes.

Right after Thanksgiving, my mother’s heath started failing. She was lethargic and sluggish but she went to work like the soldier she was. One Friday night, she couldn’t take it anymore and her niece and my cousin Cleo took her the hospital. She drove her car on three flat tires in one of the worst winters in Chicago history and got my mother checked in at a hospital on 61st and Ellis.

While in the hospital, my mother found out that she was a diabetic and that her glucose sugar level was at 900 and if she had not come in, she would gone into a coma and probably died. That was a scary thought to my then eight-year old self because she was all I had and she was everything to me.

She was in the hospital for almost three weeks; a long time for a clingy child to be without her mother. I told myself I would not cry and I didn’t but I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen to Christmas. I learned a long time ago that there was no white man in a red suit that brought me my presents and that my mother did. So I pondered what would happen if she didn’t get out on time. I wanted my mother to come home so bad but I also wanted some presents.

But she did get out and she made miracles happen! She purchased my brother Larry a silk gray shirt and slacks complete with Stacy Adams and he thought he was the shit when he put it on. She brought Randy, my other brother some skates because it was 1978 and he was about that disco life and skating at the Rink on Disco Night.

And for me? The usual collage of dolls and dishes she knew I loved. Thirty-seven years later when I look back at on my mother’s strength and perseverance, I cannot help but marvel. Damn near died, hadn’t been to work in almost a month and she managed to find money to take care of her children for Christmas. So when I am feeling low during this time, I just remember my mother and pull myself together. She was a remarkable woman.

A Letter to My Molester

This letter was originally written five years ago a few months before my fortieth birthday.  Unfortunately, this bastard was let out of prison in 2013 and is currently non-compliant.  Which means there a convicted child molester who spent 16 years in prison for the rape of a six-year-old girl running the streets of Chicago. He was 62-years-old at the time. Now he is 82. An old ass nasty child molesting bastard.

Today I learned that the bastard died three years ago at the age of 85. I thought I would feel some closure but I don’t. Because this bastard live to be in his 80s and my mother and so many of my matriarchs didn’t. And that isn’t fair.

pamgrier

Lawrence Correctional Center
10930 Lawrence Road
Sumner, IL 62466
Dear Mr. Hunt:
This letter to you has been a long time coming. If you don’t remember me, my name is Kathy Henry, your ex-girlfriend, Gertrude’s daughter. You came into my life when I was ten-years-old and from the moment you appeared, I knew you was not shit. My mother thought that I was just jealous because I never had to share her before, but instinctively I knew that your presence would mean no good for me.
At first, you seemed like a good man for my mother. You helped pay her bills, gave me an allowance and pretended that you were a stand-up guy and father figure but you weren’t shit. You were and still are a child-molesting, motherfucking pig who took away my innocence when I was eleven-years-old.

PhotoELF Edits: 2014:10:08 --- Batch Resized

Do you remember coming into my bedroom when my mother was asleep and feeling on my-then-budding body? I used to lie in my bed, fearing when you would come over because that meant I would have to sleep in my street clothes instead of a nightgown to protect myself. No little girl should have to go through that but that was my life for four years. Four fucking years.
You never penetrated me vaginally, but the damage you inflicted on my psyche was immeasurable. I was just a little girl whose only thoughts were of Barbie Dolls, books and my cat Boogie-Woogie and you made me feel like a filthy whore because the feelings you stirred in my body felt good. How could a good girl feel like that? From then on, I believed that I was no good and I blame you for that.
I became sexually active at the age of fifteen and was the mother to two children by time I was twenty-one-years old. No one put a gun to my head, but you made me feel like I was just a piece of ass and for a long time I believed that no decent man would want a nasty, dirty female like me who got herself molested because I was wearing a size 38 Double D bra at the age of eleven.
I never told my mother you molested me because I was afraid that she would not believe me. I only told her after you got arrested for taking away the innocence of another little girl, age six and the pain in my mother’s face is something that will haunt me until my dying day.
You are scheduled for parole on July 21, 2011, nine days before your 78th birthday, but the system kept your sorry ass in prison and if I have my way you will never get out because I plan on doing everything in my power to make sure your slimy ass stays behind bars for the rest of your life. You do not deserve to be free on the streets to have another opportunity to ruin another little girl’s life. God knows how many little girls you molested, but as long as I have breath in my body you will never walk the streets of Chicago again.
It is not fair that you are alive to see another birthday and my mother is dead. She died five years ago from complications from diabetes, and I still mourn her passing every day. But the world is not fair. She is in a better place and not in pain but you have been in pain every day. No freedom, referred to as a number, no normal sex life. Oh, I forgot, you are not a normal man anyway, but a fucking pervert.
I hope that the last fifteen years of your life has been hell on earth and that you are getting molested by some big, burly dude on a nightly basis. Child molesters get treated like shit in prison and I know that you have received your comeuppance. Do you lie on your bunk at night, scared and shaking, hearing the footsteps of your predator, knowing what is going to happen? Good.
Just one more question and I will leave you alone, Mr. Hunt. How could you destroy my life so willfully? I was a little girl, and with one-act you took away my innocence and my ability to ever trust a man fully. I have come to the conclusion at the age of forty-one that I will probably never get married because I do not have it in me to give myself totally in a relationship because I do not trust men.
In a just society, you would have been sentenced to life in prison for your crimes, but unfortunately that is not the way of the American judicial system. Maybe you have repented, but I doubt it. A leopard doesn’t change his spots but learns to camouflage. God may have mercy on your soul, but I don’t and I hope that you rot in hell.
Sincerely,
Kathy M. Henry

We Will Not Forget – Black Pain and White Racism

black-lives Last night, nine Black people were murdered, including state senator Clementa Pinckney, were killed in an act of domestic terrorism while attending Wednesday night prayer services at their church in Charleston, South Carolina. State senator Pinckney was the senior pastor at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the oldest church in the South and it was established in 1816 by Denmark Vesey, who was later implicated in a slave revolt and was subsequently hanged. These murders also took place on the anniversary of this same slave revolt dated June 17, 1822.

If I closed my eyes, I would swear I was in some kind of twisted time warp. It is 2015 and black children are being beaten and arrested for swimming in pools designated allegedly for white people, black churches are being targeted by racist psychotics and black people are being hunted down like prey by the police. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Although black people have opportunities now that our ancestors could not imagine, we are still not free in the true sense of the word. True freedom means being able to live a life without constant worrying about whether you or your children will become a victim of police violence because of your skin color. True freedom means being able to worship freely at your church without worrying about whether a lone, white male will come in and start shooting O.K. Corral style because his ass is deranged and filled with hate. True freedom means being able to live your life according to your standard without worrying about white retaliation. For as long as American society continues to bury its head about the sins of the past and acknowledge black pain, black people will never be free.

Although American society would like to pretend that racism is an antique of the past and that black people just need to get over it, we cannot. The reality is that a black life don’t mean shit. As long as black lives are not valued and a 12-year-old girl’s jaw is fractured and her ribs are broken by a white male police officer, we will not get over it. Until there is justice for Tamir, Rekia, Trayvon, Tanisha, and the thousands of other black people who were murdered for the sin of blackness, we will never get over institutionalized racism. This country was built on the blood, sweat, tears, and grit of Black slaves who were brought here against their will, never received any type of compensation after they were freed and whose descendants are still getting treated like shit because they are black. We will never forget so just get used to it.

Why Having a Bachelor’s Degree Does Not Mean Squat

Ten years ago in August I made a decision that would change my life: the decision to attend college. At the time, I was a struggling single mother who after working a series of low-wage jobs, decided to apply for Chicago State University to get a taste of American Dream and become a member of the fabled middle-class. However, the road to economic prosperity has been a rough one for me and six years after graduating from college with honors, I am broke as hell and worse off financially than I was ten years ago with thousands of dollars in student loan debt to boot.

I actually fought the welfare system to get my degree. For most of the four years I spent in college, I battled with my case worker and her supervisor for the right to improve my human capital.  She actually had the audacity to inform me that because I had previous work experience, they would not allow me, a grown ass woman to attend a four-year college. The most I could do was a two-year program, majoring in medical assisting or obtaining some more secretarial skills.

I paid her no heed and continued my education, eventually writing a letter to the Springfield office of the Department of Human Services here in Illinois to complain of her unprofessionalism and lack of empathy and won that battle.  No one in shoe leather would ever be able to tell me what to do so I continued to strive and thrive, always believing once I had that diploma, my days with poverty would be over. How was I to know that in less than two years after graduating from college, the economy would collapse and having a Bachelor’s degree with a high grade point average would not mean shit in the new economic realities of living in America?

I probably sound a tad bit bitter but at this point, I do not care. I am not going to lie: I am quite pissed off.  Other than a low-wage job (where I was worked like a dog) I had earlier this year which I was forced to quit due folks being hostile, I have not had a full-time job in five years. Five fucking years and the clock is ticking for me due to my age. Every day I sit out of the workforce, the harder it will be for me to find a job because of the stigma that is currently swirling in our society: unemployed folks are a bunch of deadbeat, lazy, trifling individuals looking for a handout.

I am mainly pissed because American society told women like me, single mothers that if we got off welfare, went to school, got degrees, worked at companies that treated us like crap (but didn’t complain!) and lived a clean existence despite of our so-called “mistakes” (our children), we would be admitted to the American dream.  Not! For me and millions of other women in my position, the American Dream has become an illusion that is fading on a daily basis and I have come to the conclusion that finding employment in the traditional 9 to 5 with benefits might not be an option for me anymore. I have also come to the conclusion that although American society does not have an actual caste system, climbing out of poverty is one of the hardest jobs in the world, Horatio Alger stories be damned. But I refuse to give up. I just need to rant and rave a little bit and hell, I am human.

Why Do Americans Hate Poor People So Bad?

It is not an easy thing being poor in America because poor folks are considered trash who did not work hard enough.  An entire segment of the U.S. population has been written off by society as lazy, trifling good for nothing cretins who deserve to die a slow painful death.  There are some folks who barely have a pot to piss themselves have allowed themselves to be brainwashed by out of touch politicians and the media who really believe that poor people have it easy because they depend on government benefits to survive. In their little pea brains, the poor are happily living in the lap of luxury, riding slick in their expensive cars, laughing at all shmucks on their way to work.

This misconception about the poor is one of the biggest fairy tales in American history. What is so fucking glamorous about being poor enough to receive welfare benefits?  The U.S. poverty threshold for a family of three is $19,090 which is not shit considering that some families spend 50% of their income on housing.  Half of that amount is $9,545.  That leaves a whopping $9,545 left over during the course of the year to purchase food, clothing and other bare necessities.

I used the poverty threshold for a family of three because that is the makeup of my family and I am currently poor. Yes, I am one the 47% that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wrote off as being parasites.  When I saw the video and heard his remarks, I wanted to give him a swift kick in the ass for being so damn clueless. But he cannot help himself. He is a wealthy man enveloped in his cloak of Rich White Male Privilege and do not have deal with the harsh realities of eviction notices, subpar schooling and inadequate representation from your local Congressmen.

For those who really want to know about the Lifestyles of the Poor and Downtrodden, here it is: When you are poor in America, you are powerless, defenseless and no one gives a shit about you. Poor people cannot contribute to political campaigns or send lobbyists to Washington D.C. to fight for their rights.  The children of poor people are considered fodder for expensive wars when they decided to join the military to gain better economic opportunities for themselves and their families.

Being poor in America means your child has to attend a neighborhood overcrowded elementary school where she is learning how to be a great test taker but little else because she came home from school asking who is Jesse Jackson. Being poor in America means living in neighborhoods riddled with gun violence and thugs and walking down the street can mean death or being maimed for life and not having the means to move because you only make $8.50 per hour part-time.   Being poor in America means needing food stamps and a medical card to survive because if you did not have access to these programs, your children would starve and would not be able to go the doctor.

Being poor in America sucks big time, especially in a materialistic society such as the one we currently live in which a person is judged not for his character but by the amount of money he makes, the car he drives and the neighborhood he lives in.  I am not shocked by the remarks of the wealthy about poor people but I am surprised by the remarks of those who consider themselves to be middle-class. I guess they do not understand that they are literally one pay check, one hospitalization and one bankruptcy away from being poor themselves.  But it is easier to pick on powerless poor folks who get food stamps than take on the plutocracy that is currently running our country.

Race Woman No More

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At one time, not too long ago, I used to be a Race Woman. What is a Race Woman? A Race Woman is a black woman who fights relentlessly for the empowerment and improvement of the Black community even to her own detriment.  When I went to college, I majored in sociology and minored in history, two academics that are not profitable but released the Race Woman within. I also took some Women’s Studies courses which introduced me to feminist theory and intersectionality – the ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another.

Feminism fascinated me greatly because I was taught from childhood that a black woman is supposed to suppress her feminist leanings in order to support the Black man because when he comes up, the Black community comes up. If a Black woman is too strong and assertive to some of her people, she is categorized as an “Angry Bitch” who does not know her place. She is not supposed to articulate her thoughts in anyway because her thoughts are not considered important.

Feminism is the dirtiest word in the Black community and is looked upon as that counter-revolutionary, man-hating, lesbian, white bitches’ bullshit. The main argument against feminism in the Black community is that white women did not include black women in the liberation movement and various groups such as NOW have ignored the issues of marginalized, poor women of color and although that argument has some merit, I as a Black woman can no longer turn a blind eye to the massive amount of misogynist thought patterns that exist in the Black community.

Yes, I used to be a Race Woman until I finally opened my eyes and looked around my community. Young thugs on every corner and the grown ass men in the community are too scared or too busy having sex with their mothers and sisters to lift a finger. Young black girls walking around with the eyes of a battered soul, so beaten down by life that they are happy to accept the scraps of affection given to them by anyone, male or female.

I am particularly enraged by the treatment of our young sisters because they are the gateway to the future.  Women are the bearers of life and if the garden is not attended to properly, it gets weeds. Young black girls in our current society are considered expendable. Black men call them hood rats  while screwing and impregnating them on a regular basis and Black women look at them as a threat because of their young pussies. Black women are quick to defend R. Kelly and Creflo Dollar., and countless of other nothing ass niggas but will not say a word in defense of the thousands of young Black girls who are molested, beaten, mistreated and killed on a daily basis.  They lay up with men they know are beating and sniffing around their daughters, sisters and nieces but turn a blind eye because of their own pathetic need to have a warm body to cuddle up with.

At the beginning of this month, a young Black girl named Jessica Tetter was savagely murdered by her mother’s boyfriend. Her body was found in a dumpster, thrown away like yesterday’s trash with semen found in her vagina and anus. She was sixteen years old and she will never have an opportunity go on prom, graduate from high school and college or become a mommy because of a trifling ass man and her mother’s abject stupidity and desperation. As long as racism is considered the main problem in the Black community instead of sexism, more little Black girls will die. As long as Black women continue to accept their subordinate status in the Black community, Black people will continue their descent into the gutter.  Any community that is too foolish to listen to the voices of the women is doomed for failure. I learned the hard way that being a Race Woman has a high price and I cannot afford to do so any longer. No longer will I defend the actions of men who do not give a rat’s ass about women who look like me or my daughters.

A Letter From a South Side Apartment

A couple of years ago, I read Dr. Martin Luther King’s A Letter from a Birmingham Jail and I was mesmerized by the passion and anger in his words and although we are in the second decade of the 21st century, his words still resonate. This letter I am writing is my tribute to him for giving his life for me and other disadvantaged and disrespected groups in America. It would sadden him to no end that nothing has really changed in American society in regards to race and economics. Perhaps one day, we will be truly free from the chains of racism and economic selfishness that enveloped America since its inception.

28 March 2012

My Dear Mr. Gingrich & Other Republican Presidential Candidates who believe that the Poor Blacks are the Scum of the Universe:

While confined in my lower class existence, I cannot help but think about the words you put into the universe about Black people who receive unemployment compensation, food stamps and other government benefits, people whose lives have been touched by the mean specter of poverty. Since I am very stressed out about receiving $318 per month in public assistance, I normally would not have time to think about your condescending self-serving words since I am too busy trying to find a job in a dying economy but I had to speak to you about this. The current discourse on the lives of poor Blacks in this country has been taken over by well-dressed, well-fed career politicians like yourself and I thought you needed some enlightenment.

First of all, no one wants to be poor. I know that you believe that little Black children spend their time discussing ways to be indigent and homeless by the time they are eighteen, but the children I know have big plans for their future. My ten-year-old daughter’s plans for the future change on a daily basis: One day she wants to be a fashion designer, the next a mad scientist who is going to take over the world. The one thing she has made clear is that she does not see motherhood in her future because in her words, “Being a mother takes too much work.”

I know that you like to believe that the children of poor Blacks are a drain on society but you are so wrong. I was a teenage mother at the age of sixteen and had two children by the age of twenty-one. According to statistics on teen mothers, by now my daughter should have had a slew of kids by different men and my son should have dropped out of high school and is currently imprisoned for numerous drug offenses. Not! My daughter graduated from college last year with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and my son is in college studying Communications. My children watched me work for various corporations who paid me very little money and proudly watched when I walked across the stage at the age of thirty-five to receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology with honors.

But I realize that you probably do not know too many Black people personally so when you chose to discuss them amongst your constituents, you like to use tired, worn-out stereotypes about them. According to you, Blacks have no work ethic and like taking baths in the piles of food stamps they receive on a monthly basis. Blacks have been in this country since 1619 and still have not made any progress, although White people have given them everything! What is wrong with these trifling Black people?

It is very easy for you and your kind to sprout these words, snugly enveloped in your cloak of White-male privilege but what you do not realize is that although Blacks were freed from the chains of slavery, they were never made equal, financially or mentally. Throughout the years, American society had every opportunity to make amends to African-Americans by giving them same economic advantages as Whites, but it never happened because that would mean Blacks would be on the same economic playing field as Whites and that is a no-no.

It is funny how you like to blame the media for everything wrong in your world but the media in all actuality is your best friend. The media, owned by the ruling class, has played a major role in distorting views about social economics by pretending the ruling class does not exist and poor Blacks are the dregs of society. The media with its ‘magic’ can make the historical legacy of slavery and subsequent Jim Crow laws vanish by pretending it is their fault that they are poor. By doing this, upper and middle-classed Americans learn to fear and loathe poor Blacks and refuse to make the connection between systematic racism and high poverty levels amongst African-Americans.

The dominant culture has succeeded in making African Americans subhuman to other groups, who passively accept these bigoted views. In your speeches and in the Republican debates, the message that you and others have given is to degenerate Black people at all costs and to keep poor working-class Whites in a constant tizzy about the so-called advantages given to them.

Mr. Gingrich, I feel sorry for you and wonder what you would do if Blacks did not exist in this country. Race and class was socially constructed for the advancement of Whites and the making up of a social class of poverty-stricken African-Americans who could be blamed for everything wrong in society. Take away the pretensions, the feelings of superiority that comes with having the “right” skin color and people like you in this society would be loss. No more scapegoats to blame and you would have to face up to the fact that you have no plans for making the economic system in America more equal. But it is easier to blame Blacks, who unlike your ancestors had no choice when they were brought to this country as chattel and broodmares to make the lives of the ruling class easier.

Sincerely,
Kathy M. Henry

A Mother’s Love From the Grave

In the days leading up to the anniversary of my mother’s death, I am usually filled with melancholy and dark dreary thoughts. But this year, I can smile a little bit because my mother reached out from beyond and assisted me with a problem I have been dealing with for several weeks.

I am currently enrolled in Welfare to Work, a program in which welfare recipients have to work for their monthly check and it has been frustrating to say the very least and I actually walked off from the job back in November. I knew the consequences of my actions but like the rebellious teen I used to be and who is still buried somewhere in my psyche, I said to myself, “Fuck it! I deal with that hand when it comes to me.”

So I have been waiting on pins and needles for the shit to hit the fan.  I know it was stupid as hell to walk off from the only income I was receiving but damn, I do have my dignity if I don’t have anything else. I imagined my meager benefits being sliced to less than nothing and begging Peter to pay Paul and all the apostles to put some money down on the large stack of bills that is constantly accumulating and squeeze out some more Christmas presents. My son, who is nineteen understands my financial situation and was not expecting too much but my little one is just a little girl of ten and although she said understood too, I knew that she did not and how could I break her heart? Christmas has turned totally materialistic but I get a kick out of seeing the joy on her face on Christmas morning, tearing into her presents, gleefully and greedily, remembering the child I used to be.

I had almost resigned myself to not receiving a check for the month of December when I received a call from my case manager from the program. She scolded me gently about walking off when I had no income and instead of tearing into my ass like a lot of case workers would have done, she told me to go back to the job site and to come see her when I got off work. When I jokingly asked her would I receive a check for this month, she replied “Would I do you like that and Christmas is coming?”

I almost broke down and cried over the phone but I held it together. However, when I got off, I cried like a baby and remembered that tomorrow was the anniversary of my mother’s death. Although my momma was not with me physically, she was still making shit happen for her little girl. I am not the most religious person and at times have wondered about the existence of God, the Devil and all religious dogma but I do know that I received a Christmas miracle from beyond the grave. Some of the more cynical and jaded might look at my story as mere coincidence but a mother’s love for her children can break all earthly boundaries and I know that my mother reached out for me.  I love you Ma.

Working for Pennies- The Harsh Realities of Being a Welfare Recipient

One of the biggest misconceptions in American culture is that welfare recipients are living large at the taxpayer’s expense, receiving thousands of dollars per month while driving Cadillacs and other expensive cars. This myth is so not true and how do I know? Because for the past two months, I have been on welfare and let me be the one to tell you: being on public assistance sucks.

August 3, 2011 will be a day in infamy I will never forget because it was on that date that I received my last unemployment check and officially became one of the 99ers, a term for unemployed people in the United States, who have exhausted all of their unemployment benefits, including all unemployment extensions. After applying for over two thousand jobs, I found myself in the position of having to apply for Public Aid or be faced with disconnection notices and phone calls from bill collectors who cannot speak English. If someone had asked me five years ago would I be in this position, back on welfare, I would have laughed because I went back to school and received a Bachelor’s degree and people who have degrees are supposed to be protected from economic turmoil. I graduated five years ago from Roosevelt University with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a 3.6 grade point average and I am proud of myself for that accomplishment. I know that some folks turn their noses up at people who pursue a liberal arts degree but I learned valuable critical thinking skills, how to analyze and solve problems in a creative manner, and most importantly about social stratification and inequality and I have no regrets. I also have over ten years of transferable experience in the administrative/clerical field and an ability to work with all types, fools and all. However, even with all those wonderful qualities, I cannot find a job to save my life.

When I made the decision to apply for welfare, I tried to keep positive about my situation. Millions of Americans are suffering from either being unemployed or underemployed so at least I was not alone in my troubles. But I cannot lie: Feelings of self-loathing and inadequacy run through my veins on a daily basis and a rage is building in me. A rage against a society that tells individuals that a college degree is the path to a economic prosperity, but does not disclose how centuries of social inequality have kept and will continue to keep the best and brightest out of the workforce. A rage against rich, clueless politicians who believe people that receive unemployment and welfare benefits are sitting on their butts swigging alcohol and smoking dope. A rage against myself for waiting so long to get my life together and having to deal with the consequences of perhaps being considered passé in the workforce.

I was a teenage mother who did not get my GED until I was twenty-six and my Bachelor’s degree until I was thirty-five. The entire time before both these changes took place, I was told by society that if I educated myself, I would get myself and my children out of poverty. Guess what? It did not work because I am back on welfare receiving $318 dollars per month. I did everything society told me to do and I am in the same position I was in nine years ago when I made the decision to attend college and that is a shame.

If I did not have children, there is no way in hell I would have applied for welfare. But when you are a mother, one has to make sacrifices, so I swallowed my pride and applied for cash benefits. By signing the Personal Responsibility contract in return for public assistance, a welfare recipient in essence signs her rights to being an adult away. Recipients must work for their cash and going to school is not an option.

Yes, welfare recipients must WORK for their cash benefits. I know that people believe in the myth of women laying up on welfare, eating bon-bons and spitting out a baby every year while collecting those fat government checks but that is a load of malarkey.

On August 22, 1996 in the Rose Garden of the White House, President William Jefferson Clinton signed into law the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, better known as welfare reform, dismantling the sixty-one year program of federally guaranteed cash assistance to needy families or what is known as welfare. Welfare recipients have five years to receive cash assistance and after that, it is a wrap. The debate surrounding welfare reform was dominated by white male politicians and journalists and focused predominately on minority women and their families living in poverty because minority women are the only ones in America who received Public Aid (sarcasm). Although President Clinton had the right idea, he and others did not take into account what would happen if the economy collapsed and finding a job would be the equivalency of hitting the lottery.

It burns my soul that I am back on the dole, working for $318 per month which is equal to $79.50 per week at six hours per day after everything I went through to better myself. If I refuse to go to any of the job sites my caseworker sends me to, I will be sanctioned, meaning that my monthly benefits will be cut in half to $159. So the next time, a hardworking tax payer complains about welfare recipients and how they are living good, eating lobster and shit, think about me, the college educated single mother who took care of her children, saw two of them graduate from high school, one from college, only to find herself and youngest child still poverty-stricken and broke as hell.

Also, if anyone knows of any job opportunities in the Chicagoland area, please let me know.