Tag Archives: Economic Recovery

Black History Month: Giving From The Heart

Back in December, I was overcome with tears at the secret Santa’s who gave anonymously so that families in need could have a better Christmas. As I know first hand, it is easy to feel isolated and forgotten when you are overwhelmed. Many people are struggling and feeling subsumed beneath the ongoing grind of economic strife and lack of employment.

People hear the economic numbers and the unaffected find it convenient to dismiss them, forgetting that they translate into actual families and individuals.

The 4 million foreclosures forecasted this year, are 4 million crushed dreams. More than just shelter, it is the hard work, the hoping, planning and sweat it took to carve out one place on the planet to call your own, to retreat, renew and build – gone. In many cases, after years of sacrifice.

How about the inability to meet basic needs like buy healthy food, pay for health insurance, or keep the heat on?

As the events of 2008 proved, life can flip you on your head with no warning. Unless you are someone like Romney whose safety net extends beyond our shores.  Say for instance…

  • The bank cuts off your equity line of credit, or claim (repeatedly) that they lost your HAMP application.
  • Your food stamps get cut without warning, or the state announces that they have no money to keep your child’s school running.
  • The GOP decides another unemployment insurance extension is not a priority, or heartless maniacs cheer at the thought of letting the uninsured die while the insurance companies make billions off the sick.

It can, or has happened, to someone you know right now.

Sometimes, the so called safety net is not enough. Only the Romneyesque with the convenience of many mansions, servants and staff, who buffer him from the hardships or every day life, can believe that it is.

So many more of us have been fighting to fulfill our basic needs for longer than 2008 and it is only now that the house of cards almost collapsed and numbers of the poor are increasing that the embattled have moved – center stage.

In my opinion, man is at his best during times of stress. People find unknown stores of strength to fight and others feel compelled to lend a helping hand. It is the good thing about crises, seeing how people come together and forget about race, class, sexuality and all the other factors that we use to divide ourselves.

Which is why I am totally psyched and inspired by my latest find.

Kudos to Chris Jansing and The Grio.

The Grio, which I love, is a great online publication for African American news. The Grio.com’s 100 showcases 100 African Americans who are making history. Browsing the diversity of categories is nothing short of inspiring and informative but my favorite is Service & Activism.

Take a look at the following story about the emerging phenomenon of online giving, featuring the fantastic Andrew Bo Young III. Andrew is the CEO of Givelocally which connects charitable individuals, in a new and personal way, with those who are in need.

Make no mistake, the gift of giving is not quantified by dollars, but the currency of caring and kindness. It is the greatest gift you can give, one straight from the heart.

Blessings to all who sacrifice and uphold their fellow man. They make me proud to be human, unlike the GOP who make me wish I could become a tree ;). Hey, it could happen lol.

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#OurSpeech For Maxine Waters: I Made It!!!

I’m having a drink right now to celebrate my inclusion in Our Speech given by Maxine Waters to Congress on October 26th. I can’t even begin to express my shock and elation. Thank you to all of you who cheered me on!!!

Congratulations to my friend, Somer Empress, as well!! I bet she doesn’t know she made it.

The text of the speech is written below and the video link is here. Enjoy!

Washington, Oct 26

Congresswoman Maxine Waters made history today when she delivered the first-ever speech on the House floor complied entirely of posts from her Twitter and Facebook accounts. Two weeks ago, Congresswoman Waters took to Twitter and Facebook pages to ask her “followers” to send her what they would say to House Republicans if they had the opportunity to make a speech on the House floor. We received thousands of comments from people all over the U.S. The highlighted and under-lined names are the people whose posts we used to create the speech. We’ve reviewed these comments and compiled the best of them into the speech below:

Aaron Parker: To the people that sit on Capitol Hill:

Tawanda Johnson-Gray: As Members of Congress in the greatest country in the World, you are very well aware of the concerns expressed by the American constituency (Jobs, Stable Economic Environment, Education, Crime, War, etc.). Aaron Parker: You are not republicans, you are not democrats, you are not an independent, you do not belong to any faction. @lmsweets: Stop worrying about party and do something for the people, @easynan2: pass the jobs bill, we all need to work. E. Joyce Moore : A child with no food doesn’t care about your power struggle with those who are across the aisle. You must represent the most downtrodden people in your district, not the most successful business nor any special interest. Virginia Ferguson: Big money donations from corporations and the financial industry have purchased our democracy. @dakotathenifty: American elected the house not corporations. It is time they represent us. Aaron Parker: You have an obligation as a public servant, to ensure that the underprivileged of our society will be protected. @aonarat: don’t forget the poor a group that continues to grow while the rich get richer. Aaron Parker: We have to trust you to make the right decision for us, @abridgeforth: support and pass the American Jobs Act. Yvonne LaRose: We labor to right our small, overturned coffers to replace what was lost. We labor and pay three and four times over for substandard services. We are forced to stand in lines and then shoved aside because we have become the disenfranchised while billionaire executives live and work in very comfortable environments. We are bludgeoned with partisan rhetoric that distracts from the real American issues and representatives who feel they may act without giving heed to the desires of their constituents.

Put partisan politics aside; start serving your citizens with measured focused on supporting the people. @emdoyle Congress must support jobs. We need jobs so that we can pay our reasonable share for life activities and services. We want the right to realize the promises of our founding documents.

@sizzlene: the middle class have been the legs this country has stood on. The lack of meaningful action in DC has crippled us.

Rogelio Cruz: We have not been able to save for our children’s college education as we live paycheck to paycheck. We worry about the more immediate dilemma-will we be able to keep our home? We are two months behind in our mortgage. Bank of America, our lender was bailed out with our tax money. Now who is going to bail us, who played by the rules and worked hard, out? @sugarscoutc: please don’t give another dime of our money to save the banks, they do not care about us.

Coco Rivers: Americans are sick of hearing Congress bicker about whom is to blame for our issues. While Congress pontificates and filibusters, Americans are starving, losing their homes, working multiple jobs, if they can find them, and puzzling over ways to balance our incredibly, shrinking budgets against the rising costs of tolls, gas, food and corporate thievery in the guise of bank fees and loan rates. @Somerexpress: Good hardworking American’s shouldn’t be rubbing nickels together and shouldn’t have to pick food over medicine.

Coco Rivers: We wonder how we will pay our taxes and student loans, avoid answering our phones, leave our mail unopened, as we struggle. The system, if it ever was for us, has failed at this critical juncture in history to safeguard us. The global Occupy Wall Street movement illustrates beautifully the consciousness of the people which has been missing from the political landscape. @emdoyle Congress must support jobs, education and healthcare. @westlamike: people are hurting out here. Coco Rivers: Our silence has finally and irrevocably been broken. Those of us who have been awakened are now willing soldiers in the fight. @monoteus1: The voice of the people occupying around the nation will not go unrecognized. Our strength, our passion and our vision can, and should be, harnessed to power change.

@toebin: Old policies don’t work.

Coco Rivers: Suggestions:

  • Rod Hernandez The first thing to do is to abolish any budget committee discussions that do not happen on the floor. The existence of these secret negotiations by super committee validates #OWS and all of the people’s concerns. All budget talks should be done in full view of the American people so that come election day we know who is working toward the greater good and can make our choices accordingly.
  • Coco Rivers: Revise the tax code and raise the taxes for the rich and corporations and pass the American Job Act. @toebin: If tax cuts created jobs we wouldn’t have millions unemployed now.
  • Coco Rivers Close the loopholes, which allowed corporations to skirt the system and create the mortgage crisis.
  • Cheryl Hammerlindl Get money out of politics.
  • Coco Rivers: We need citizen funded elections to limit corporate influence. @bubbadutta: Citizens united must go. @oversightoftheGOP: If politicians were freed from endless fundraising, they would focus on jobs, not favors.
  • Coco Rivers: Enact a National Foreclosure Moratorium
  • Coco Rivers: Waive 401K tax withdrawal penalties for the unemployed and underemployed as discussed during the 2008 campaign. How can people get back on their feet if they are in debt to everyone incl. the IRS?
  • Coco Rivers: Determine what can be done to repeal the recently enacted Voter id laws which will have a direct impact on the 2012 election.
  • USAgainstAlzheimer’s: We need to make a cure for Alzheimer’s a national priority, otherwise it could add $2 trillion in debt to the US economy in the next 10 years.
  • National Voting Day: Election Day should be a National Holiday!
  • Sheri Jefferson: LEAVE EDUCATION FUNDING ALONE. Yvonne Ellett America needs a strong, learning-focused Public Education System.

Gregory Bryant: (E)nd…Outsourcing and Off shoring. Lucy Merks: Globalization has moved our jobs overseas. We must start to think and act locally, by making things here again. Tim Fowler: If the huge corporations want their tax cuts, they can have it, just as long as 99% of their workforce is employed inside of the United States.

President Obama To Announce Actions On Housing & Student Loans

Check out what President Obama’s been up to here. Color me tickled pink!

Can I say just how proud I am of President Obama? Oh boy, am I. Just think, last week, was full of memorable political milestones. From the death of Gaddafi, to the Announcement of the end of the TEN year Iraq war (cursing the warmonger GWB under my breath) to this latest turn of events that will affect the lives of millions.

Dare I say, that Obama is exercising his political muscle? What a welcome sight it is. These latest announcements move him up a notch, in my estimation, to a brilliant tactician. I can’t wait to hear the details.

The GOP must be wringing their hands and tearing out their hair as this shows them up for the obstructionist jackazzes that they are beneath the roar, rhetoric and stupidity that pollutes their entire camp. I can’t wait to see the backlash. Undoubtedly, there will be a hue and cry as to why this is a bad move but they better tread carefully as the drowning public, at large, will not appreciate their CONTINUE TO DO NOTHING BUT MESS WITH OBAMA attitude.

The soldiers are coming home and they will need something more than parades to feed their families.

Let them eat cake indeed!!!

Is it enough? Certainly not, but it’s a damn good start. 🙂

Things That Make You Go Hmmm #2

Thanks to Twitter, I caught the Tea Party Debate on CNN last night. Be still my liberal heart. I could prattle on about the idiocy, dirty pool politics and slandering that has become a part of American politics but why bother since it was so wonderfully exemplified. Anyhoo, I expected that. What I did not expect was the response to the hypothetical question about the 30 year old uninsured man.

For those of you that did not watch, the question and response are illustrated here.

I was absolutely stunned that someone(s) in the audience yelled out “Let him die” as applause rolled across the room. I was left to wonder what has become of our fellow Americans and morality in general. How can we, as a so-called civilized society, possibly cheer at the thought of leaving a sick human being to die unaided in the richest (so-called) country in the world?

The conservatives call for accountability and responsibility rather than government sponsored programs aka “handouts” and involvement. They say that our social policies are outdated because clearly previous generations were just idiots and we now have ALL the answers. RIGHT.

Face it, their stance is nothing short of reactionary. Action without thought is stupidity and we are treading dangerous waters when common citizens become so incensed that all they care about is the betterment of self.

The ship which represents the American ideal of home ownership and the middle class is sinking so drastic measures are required to keep the ship aloft blah blah blah. Yes, but at what cost?

It is extremely unpleasant to watch the layers of civility evaporate as people cry “Me first! Damn the rest of you!” It’s like watching the stampede scene from King Kong and just as scary. I did not get the memo because I can’t find any justification that would warrant such behavior. I am ashamed and frankly a little nauseated because I can’t turn off the TV and pretend it doesn’t exist.

Consider life for a moment, if you will. What were you doing at 30?

I was just coming to the end of my Me phase. Just becoming a little less obsessed with clothes (just a little). I was still capable of staying up all night and bouncing off to work on 3 hrs. sleep and was able to function. I was responsible, independent and had been working for 11 years but I still had a feeling of invulnerability. I had never had a serious illness or been hospitalized. I didn’t think about death, retirement etc. It was only at grandmother’s coaxing that I had a 401K. I was just beginning to consider that it might be time to buy something and stop renting, have a child…. In other words, I was still growing up. 

Our paths are not all the same but my point is that it is VERY easy for me to understand a healthy, normal, 30 year old, single adult eschewing health care costs for some more pertinent luxury. No doubt, it would be a fundamental error in judgement but our understanding of the world is slow to develop – no matter what we are taught. *Most of us are paying $500 a month just for ourselves with high deductibles so the $200 – $300 sounds awesome! Can someone tell me what carrier they were referencing? lmao.*

Should disaster strike, I would want to kick my 30 year old son’s ass but I would beg, borrow or steal to help him, just like any good parent would. More so, with the benefit of experience, I would understand his error.

Suppose I was gone and there was no one to help him? No family to rely on, or if saints preserve us, my family was broke? We all know how cheap health care is these days. Would I be happy that the system which I had paid into ALL my life and some of my ancestors had died for to boot would leave him to die unaided?

I would much rather that my hard earned money go to help people than fight wars. Go to educate and empower people than to line the pockets of the rich elite or mentally enslave them with increasingly diminished possibilities for self actualization. It only requires a little from each, damn.

If we can only uphold one another when buildings are on fire what has happened to our souls? I am still positive that I have one and don’t wish to end up like Dorian Gray. Which leads me to wonder just how many of these conservatives have the gall to call themselves Christians.

You do not have to be a liberal, democrat or Christian to value human life. Since the people in the auditorium had such little regard for it maybe we should line them up and shoot them as traitors for the greater good. Extreme, yes? RIGHT.

My final thought on this is to ponder what is happening to man as God and religion become less prevalent in our everyday lives. People claim they can comport themselves in an ethical and moral manner without God but evidence does not lie.

Inhale, Exhale: This Too Shall Pass

I haven’t written much this week because it has been a whirlwind of activity. It’s Saturday so I can get off the ride now lol. As most of you know, I own a small landscaping company. Since it is a mere 4 weeks to the start of the garden season, we’ve been busy with website updates, promotion, Newsletter creation, equipment inventory/repairs and Marketing plans. It sounds boring but it’s not. The winter season is our downtime and even with the constant snow it was nothing compared to the garden season which encompasses fertilizer applications, aeration, planting, pruning, lawn care, designs and installations etc. etc.

As busy as we are, I relish this time of year because my brain is firing on all cylinders and the buzzing is wonderful, compared to anxiety, panic and inertia.

Now, I get to move, literally and figuratively, and oh my god it feels fine. The winter, in hindsight, seems to have been a time when the spectre of death and grief hovered over my life. Three people in six months. Grief is a two-fold process, you mourn the person but you also sift through any issues that you had with the person in an attempt to find closure. Of course, you have no choice but to find closure as the other person is gone and you will never have the chance to work it out except in your own head and heart.

To make matters worse, winter was a time filled with panic and anxiety. Ever since I lost my job in Telecom, I have been trying to find my footing. It is a terrible thing to have terra firma shifting underneath you. During this time, I have started my business and that has been a blessing because I am finally doing something that I love. Something that matters..for the earth and the people we assist in optimizing their garden environment.

It always bothered me that my former career as a technologist was so lacking in meaning. The joy of interacting with nature, continually learning new things and bringing a soulful smile to people, even if it’s only a handful, is what now gets me out of bed in the morning. That too, is something I never had. I was the exemplary employee who was sure to use every one of her sick days because I hated the pressure of my job. Even my sicknesses were mentally based. I hated the corporate ceiling. I hated the need to continually prove myself because I am black and a female. I hated the boy’s club. I hated the fact that my male counterparts on average made 30K more than I did and I hated the fact that so few people were conscious, or conscientious enough to thank you for all the hard work that went into running a turret system, a telephone system, a recording system, Video conferencing units, Softphones, Call collectors, Audio conferencing stations, Voicemail etc. etc. A very complex system is required for Corporate communications support and most people, even upper management who should know better, take that for granted. All the weekend hours that I gave away. All the nights working till 2 am and then popping up, fresh, suited and exhausted for work to be screamed at by traders and higher ups for the tiniest infraction. Boy, I don’t miss any of that lol.

Nonetheless, I would have to be a fool not to recognize that 22 years of life savings,  security and knowing my life path literally vanished in the blink of an eye. It has made me feel small and very conscious of just how much of my life and self-worth revolved around my job. People will say that’s not true, who you are is not your job and my response is that it’s not supposed to be true. But when you spend so much of your waking life at work, preparing for work, or getting to work, it has to have a huge impact on who you are.  

So, for the past 2 years and 5 months, I have been rebuilding. Rebuilding my idea of who I am and what matters to me and picking a path and direction. I am very conscious of the fact that the me that I display here is a combination of old and new values, merging and coalescing with my life’s knowledge and experience. This blog would’ve been very different two years ago. Forging ahead to unknown territories as a new business owner and gambling a portion of my life savings has caused a great deal of anxiety and, let’s face it, panic. I felt like I had lost complete control of my life when I thought I had it all in hand. I failed to understand how much control means to me and letting it go to some degree was one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn.

The business has been a boon but as it is still in it’s infancy and we elected to start it during the economic downturn it has been somewhat slow going. Of course, it has not caught up to my three figure salary, so I am now standing in a pile of debt that is threatening to suck me down. It has taken every internal resource I have to ask for help. Even knowing that so many people I know are in similar straits. Although I hate the idea, I have tried to find work in my previous field for the short term but the job market is still incredibly slow. Even with all the industry connections I have, I haven’t found anything in the six months. I am registered everywhere and have only had one interview in that timeframe. So much for 22 years of work experience. Sadly, my friends that are working are way more stressed than they were 2 years ago as increased demands and lower wages are ruling the day. I guess it makes it easier that I know other people in the same boat.  

With the reduced money from the business during the winter season and the expiring unemployment extensions, I finally had no choice but to ask for help. Strangely enough, it is coming in trickles and from places I least expect it. We are determined not to lose our home and to maintain control of our life but weathering the storm has been very difficult. 

Yet, I would change nothing. That’s right, nothing from the day they let me go. A course correction needed to be made and wherever I land I am still better off inside than I was on 10/26/08 when my world flipped upside down.

I have a greater respect for life than I ever had before. Call it fate, call it God, call it destiny, but it is sure to deliver the surprise that you least expected. In that is inherent joy, pain and the possibility for growth. I get that now in a way that I never did before.

True, I now have a disgusting familiarity with panic attacks. Panic that comes in waves which will not allow you to rest, to catch your breath or to enjoy the much taken for granted beat of a heart at rest. I have shed more tears in the last year as our financial foundation has crumbled away than I would wish on any person. The complexity of my emotions and the questions which have dogged me are without precedence. I feel duped, hoodwinked and bamboozled. I did everything I was supposed to do, educated myself, worked hard, paid my bills, got my small piece of the American dream and due to some corporate assholery my wings were clipped and not one executive has even been arrested for their part in the scandal which has affected millions of lives and homeowners. Where is the justice in that?

So, it has taken a great deal of introspection to STAND and yet, I have.  I have a much greater respect for Me which is priceless. You can’t buy that and the things that I have gained in this two year period are of greater value to me than all the things I learned in the two decades prior. Who would’ve thunk it?

Now that the phone is ringing again and my clients are making me crazy again, I have a newfound determination, focus and clarity about how to bring the business up to meet our financial need. With a little help from my friends and family, I can breathe again. Most of all, I have hope and faith in God that this too shall pass and that feels so phenomenal. Only I know how hard it was to maintain the courage it took to walk this path…