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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Crunk Feminist Collective

Everyone who knows me even remotely well knows I don’t do hugs. Get too close physically and I am quick to let you know that you’re invading my personal space!

So of course, hilarity regularly ensues since it seems I’ve managed to attract a significant number of friends whose primary love language is physical touch. And frankly, sometimes I think these friends just like to lay hands on me for the hell of it.

You can imagine, then, my skepticism when my crew of sista prof friends planned a spa day at one of those places that boasts not only unlimited use of saunas, swimming pools and a range of pay-as-you-go spa services, but also, to my chagrin, openly nude bathing pools. I had heard of such places and vowed never to go to one. Anyway, I decided to be brave, because spa days are high on my list…

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