Sunday, September 23, 2012

Another 47% Moocher Speak Up for Education

I want to add my contribution to the many great bloggers writing about being in the 47% entitled, victim-hood and moocher club.  I though I was finished with it but I want to give my education version.

I wanted to go to college. My family encourage me to get a good job. That isn't why I wanted to go to college. I wanted to be somebody. I wanted to know things and people beyond my neighborhood.

Every book, every great movie and every in-depth news story I read growing up told me I could settle for less or get that book learning. 

So yes. Entitlement. As an American citizen, I was told to strive for the best because I could do anything I set my mind on doing. It was the implied entitlement of self-determination. Just like we were taught. In school. Public education funded by tax payers.

Now my family did encouraged me to do whatever it took to get a good job. (They really were job focused but could accept that college could bring more money.) There was absolutely no money for me to go to college.

Not from my mom who struggled to make the rent and later the mortgage. No father contribution because his interests were fermented elsewhere. No rich relatives. No clue how to do this other that the one financial aid workshop I attended.

I'd have to do it on scholarship money and financial aid. Yes, I knew I'd have to work. That was implied in all that reading I did.  Booker T. Washington comes to mind. I know there are people that do not believe broke folks understand about scrimping and saving for a long term goal.

We did. We still do.

I did get a few small scholarships but it was a student loan and what is known as a Pell grant that got me in the door.

Entitlement, check. Moocher, check.

I worked as I went to classes. The first school was in a rural place that I as a city girl had no place being. I left after a year and tried a local university.

My first university class I got the evil eyes from some of the white folks who were very angry about my presence. I believe the words uttered were "Affirmative Action." They made it known I should not have been sucking up the same air or be allowed in the room.

Now, I'm not too clear on this victim-hood part. Were they the victims for having to suffer my presence in the room? Cuz Skippy and Trixie made no pretense about their revulsion on my sitting in the class.

Still working side jobs, living in crappy places and trying to keep up. I wasn't a victim. I was really busy trying to keep up. Until I couldn't. And had to drop out.

If you are still reading at this point let me provide you with a musical interlude.

Round Two

I lick my wounds and go back again using Pell grants, more student loans and side jobs. At my community college the people I took classes with were grandmothers, guys working the 2nd or 3rd shift. We were back to school moms, welders and other folks that wanted that diploma.

No Skippy. No Trixie. No drama. We were white, black, Asian, and everybody else that was ready at 7p.m. for class.

I also took advantage of free vocational education training. I learned to type and write business letters. This was counter to my proto-feminist leanings but I needed to make sure I could crowbar my way in the door of a better job.

Round Three - Move to California 

Second day in state and I'm looking in the Classifieds. Word Processor. Data Entry. Computer operator. I had no idea what they were talking about.  I had just left my home town where companies were still working with IBM memory typewriters. I got temp jobs but I needed to learn this other stuff.

Highly motivated. In 1982 these job paid $25 an hour. However, did not have $5,000 for classes.

So my lazy broke behind bought and studied computer magazines. I was very willing to help out on temp jobs that allowed me to touch or use their computers. Learned very quickly to print out the Help menu. Covert on the job training.

Two years later,there was a free computer class at the local college. Yes, my inner moocher said ring-a-ding-ding.

In-between the classes were employment where I put my tax dollars back into the kitty. There came a time where I could pay for my classes. I paid with no complaint.

There came a time when I was teaching other people, working women, moms, domestic violence victims how to use the computer and software. I did so willingly.

My students did not know this but I was not going to let any of them leave my class without knowing how to do something. And encourage them. And respect them. And make sure they could write a simple Excel formula.  No half stepping.

This 47% moocher paid back all of my student loans.  This moocher made sure she continued to learn both in city or state supported training or through the community college or university system.

This moocher now pays for her classes because the great state of California made it possible for me to keep up with the changes in the labor market. This moocher pays taxes so that others can do the same.

About to start a new adventure, career wise. I will need to go back to school. Don't worry 51% folks. I have the money to pay for it. Or pay it back if I need another student loan.

My point in laying this all out is that people do not live in a vacuum. It isn't about taking and not giving back. Tax dollars circulate and provide a way to help others provide skills to help folks get on their feet and return the investment. Multiple times.

That doctor thumping on your chest? Student loans. That building going up? Some of those guys went through an apprentice training program in a city or state training partnership with industry. That person slinging that gourmet meal might have attended a cooking school using financial aid.

Many of you really don't know where your tax dollars are working positively for you and your communities. You now know one success story. There are millions more.

Yes, among my many gifts I am a low down 47% moocher. We are legion.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Trying Not to Be Numbed Out and Failing

There is a part of me that wants me to "do something". There is a section of my brain that is saying "chill".  I can't handle the outrage of the day and the cruelty of humans while I'm fighting off this cold I caught last week.

The days are piling up but this unhappy camper needs to step back and just be a rank and file human being. More rank cuz I've been hacking up a bunch of dis-comfortable internal matter.

When I was a kid, I did the number about how old I'd be at this time. I hoped for flying cars. Weekend trips to Mars. Walking through the wonders of a hydroponic city.

I read a lot of SciFi when I was a kid. I was ready. I knew the future was gonna be great.

Here I am. I have access to primitive tri-corders (smartphones and tablets) I have a global communications network at my finger tips. I have friends and acquaintances on three continents.

Yet a hate filled foolish man make makes a movie whose trailer is on YouTube which is picked up by Egyptian television and people who had nothing to do with the damn thing are dead.

The conflicts of religion, free speech, intolerance and ignorance come knocking on my door. Maybe it is good that I am hacking up dis-comfortable internal matter. Keeps me from adding to the misery.

Numbing Through Literature

I've been watching clips of Jane Austen movies. I don't know why, not really a big fan of Austen's work. I tried reading it but I don't have the patience to step into that very restrictive world. The BBC versions are more accessible to me.

But here is the thing. That world had everything laid out. What you could do, what you could say, how to dress and how you should live. It was self-imposed programmed living.

There were rebels. There was a great deal of hypocrisy. In no way, shape of form would I advocate a returned to such structured living.

Yet I watch clips from the BBC series and movies. I numb out on just how daffy we are acting today. There is a kind of peace in it. A false peace, but sometimes you need a resting spot. A cave that acts as a portal to another world.

Besides, I've seen all the Justice League of America. Trying to develop a taste for Richard Diamond and Boston Blackie. The Naked City rocks but I got to pace myself on that one; excellent writing and storytelling.  The episode I saw was so good it made me feel inferior.

Then again, it might have been the cold medicine.

I have to come out of it. Get back into my flow and do some good. Or at least do no harm.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Who Speaks for the Negro Audio Archive

Maybe this should have been posted on the library blog but I think this Robert Penn Warren audio archive has a resonance beyond libraries collections. I've been reading the transcripts of some of the recordings. Some of narrative is a challenging read.

Not because of the subject matter. It is because much of what these people experienced is being re-vamped for this time. The Voter ID Card/Poll Tax obstacle course is but one example.

Author Robert Penn Warren toted a reel to reel tape machine and spoke with the humble and the famous folks during the time of the Civil Rights movement.

These tapes have been digitized and there are transcripts of the conversations. It is a wonderful and yet hurtful look at how we have and have not changed.

Reverend Joe Clark talks about folks being color struck and self hateful that they do all they can not to be black:
...And, the upshot of it all is the only thing that they have to base this artificial situation on is the color of their skin and the texture of their hair, which to me is not a satisfying standard, because after all we had nothing to do with it. You have no personal sense of accomplishment in being fair with light skin and when you look beyond the skin color and the hair texture and you ask, well, what have you done to justify your existence here – and – then in ninety nine cases out of a hundred there is nothing there. 
There are contemporary 21st Century music performers doing the same things. Straight up minstrel shows for profit. Assimilation 101.

There is a lot of historical grounding in the audio. These are not the mythical people found in my elementary school history books. This is" my life is on the line and I want folks to know why" documentation.

Funny how some of the old tropes are being re-worked in the current election. Words like lazy. Subsidies. Nanny state.  Swap out communism for socialism and you can see how much has and hasn't changed.

You can listen to the audio on the site or you can read the transcripts. I would suggest you start with the non-famous folks first. They need to be heard.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Eastwood and Invoking the Isms

I was that kid in the front row chomping down on popcorn during the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. There he was, Clint Eastwood,  10 feet tall blasting the hell out of somebody so some poor folks could stop cowering in fear about the weekly desperado coming to loot up the joint.

My desperados were closer to home. It helped to know some body was doing something about it even if it was in Italy.

Clint Eastwood has made really great movies. It is not like I did not know he was a conservative. But it seemed like this was a guy you could disagree with and walk away with an honest discussion for a memory.

I don't know what to think now. When I see the photo of Clint Eastwood talking down to a chair there is  a twinge in my heart. I know what the chair represents. If you ever sat in a similar chair as a kid, you know that feeling.

Who Did He Think He Was Talking To?

My adult pain is tied up in a political campaign that has sought to alienate a good portion of those of us that are not male, European American or wealthy. We have been told we really don't know or have been correctly educated to understand what this country stands for; and only those that have the privileged of a monetary perspective can truly understand how America should be run.

The current campaign has told me as much through media and coded speeches to the fearful and the opportunistic.

I can get angry because it is the usual suspects. I can ignore them because I want to focus on positive action. I even cut back on blogging my agitation on BlogHer and other places because I don’t want to stir up a heated useless fuss.

I want to share paths to solutions. I can’t do that when I am so very angry. I’ve slipped up a few time but I don’t want to add to the noise. I really don’t.

There is a part of me that flashes back to that kid in the front row chomping down on popcorn during the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. That guy was invoked at the convention. Somebody else showed up.

I am not stupid. I expect political hyperbole in an election year. I expect that racism will be used as a method to get out the vote. And yes, facts will be an impediment to an successful campaign so ditch them.

I just didn’t expect this mess to come out of this man’s mouth.

It is not the first time somebody has used the invisible chair routine. The Smithsonian blog has a good write up about how the political chair has been used over the years.

The Grid Doesn’t Lie 

You have this film icon of imaginary gunfights and wars talking down to a chair. In that small chair is supposed to be the President of the United States of America. Reducing the image down to its core element you see:

Who is in power and who is the supplicant? Because when an 82 year old white man who has made his living off creating illusions of being the man that rights wrongs tries to chastise and speak for a sitting African American president using what he thinks is the vernacular:
I have to tell you it stinks. It is a familiar stench. I never thought that I’d see Clint do the “Old Massa” role.

The Rights of Free Speech

Yes, each citizen has the right to criticize and hold Obama accountable for what was promised and what was delivered. We don’t even have to be nice about it.

And dang skippy if some of y’all have been especially vocal in you disapproval.

There is just one fact that cannot be ignored. Obama is the President of the United States. Not your house boy.

And the icon used in that “performance” perhaps unintentionally, is a reminder of who intends to be in charge and how the old order will be restored.

A small message to those who fund and support the re-establishment of the old world order.

This is our place. Our country as well as yours. It is an inconvenient truth. For those of us that are not white, Christian or abstinent, we’d thought you had understood we live here too.

You might chose to be color blind or diversity hostile but this is where we shall continue to live, grow and prosper. Deal with it.

Mr. Eastwood, maybe you just got carried away in the moment. Maybe you truly feels the country should be rolled back to 1961. I don't know.

We Won’t Go Back.

There is this ember in me that wants to assert it is possible to find solutions that include grass roots networking and corporate relationships. It is possible to generate meaningful employment without giving multi-billionaires and corporations tax breaks or forcing people to work for impoverish wages.

I'm putting that ember in a safe place. America is not ready. Not today.

I’ll be better in a few days because good people will remind me that none of the work of a democracy is easy. This is a long distance run.

I just think we should not wait for something severe to happen that force people out of selfish, myopic visions.

Sadly, I know my history.