Thursday, July 29, 2010

Liberation for me

I need to liberate myself. I have been involved in liberation movements for the majority of my adult life – lgbt immigration, race, living wage. But today I need to liberate myself from me.

I am 55 years old. I have not had a job for the better part of the last three years so I have no more unemployment. The two federal legislators I talked to at netroots had no idea that there is a group of people who have run out of unemployment.

This terrifies me.

There are now people in the movement who are making gigundous amounts of money for work that I have done for free for decades. This pisses me off. I feel pushed to the side and all the work I have done amounts to nothing because a new generation apparently just invented activism. So all the lessons learned, battles won and lost mean nothing. We are pushed to the side, living in poverty and wondering what will come next. The streets, starvation, stress of unknown proportions?

The truth that liberates me though is this: there is nothing I can do about it. I am completely and totally powerless.

The movement will continue without me and others who have come before who have won and passed laws, won and made lives better, won and gave hope. I can’t do anything about it.

Except tell the truth.

I am afraid.

So with this confession, I have to say that whatever amount of money people are making in whatever large amounts those are, all of that is none of my business. When I get obsessed with what other people are doing it is because I am afraid for my own future and what will become of me. When I focus on others I don’t have to look at what has become of me.

But the truth is also that this hurts my feelings, a lot. I am friends with a lot of people around the country. It really makes me sad that so many things are happening and no one invites me and my peers anymore for our thoughts or ideas. I am old news, literally.

Those of us in the 50+ age range can’t get jobs, are losing all we have built up over the years and are struggling with the world as it has become. Nothing is fair. (Not that life ever was fair. When we lost so many of our brothers we were very clear that life wasn’t fair.)

So now that I am liberating myself, I hope to breathe a little easier, think a lot more about those around me and less on people and things that are none of my business.

In the meantime keep your fingers crossed that there are more jobs for people everywhere. All our ships will rise together.

From Netroots Nation

This includes a video taken by the folks who staged an action at lunch at Netroots one afternoon. The action was effective and showed an ugly side of the progressive movement that many of us know already, white privilege. The video includes lgbt people.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

More of the same

On June 30, the Department of Labor released new, state-by-state numbers on how many workers have been cumulatively affected by Congress' inability to extend long-term unemployment benefits. As of July 3, an estimated 1.7 million workers will lose their benefits. If this drags on through July, a total of 3.2 million workers will lose their benefits. – Center for American Progress

Independence Day weekend is for many people a long, leisurely time off to enjoy the bounty of employment. Barbecues, going to the beach (if they are close enough), swimming, boating, picnics by water are all on the menu this holiday weekend. Maybe not so much for the millions of Americans like myself who are out of work and with no unemployment coming in the near future.

Millions of Americans, millions includes LGBT Americans with no safety net. As I have written before, this still includes me.

This is obviously a frustrating situation for the country and all the people affected by this hideous financial situation. Depression, anger, hopelessness are all obvious traits of the unemployed. Those around us are also impacted, watching family and friends struggling, creating an even larger sense of hopelessness and frustration.

I have spent some time looking at the considerable amount of information available about this Depression. (I am done saying it is a recession. Time to call it what it is, a depression.) I am not an economist but I am an unemployment statistic. I wonder if I am wondering if I fall in the “given up looking for work” category even though I look every day. But apparently large numbers of people fall into that category weekly because of the amount of time we are jobless.

This is the big light bulb for me about this depression. If people like me don’t have money, we can’t spend something we don’t have. Duh, right? But this impacts all the small businesses who usually create jobs because no one is spending money. Therefore they cannot hire people like me.

It is a seesaw. There is no balance where both parties sit level. It is seesaw that has stopped either seeing or sawing. It cannot move because as Krugman has pointed out, our Congress is full of “the coalition of the heartless, the clueless and the confused.”

These same people have the same attitude toward us as LGBT people in this country. They vote against us every chance they get, they have no desire to meet let alone befriend an lgbt person. And the confused, see Mormon Church, separation of church and state. Also thou shalt not lie.

And now this same administration who does not take the battle of the unemployed to the Congress to fight for us is doing the exact same thing for us as lgbt people, nada. Oh yes, there have been a couple of cocktail parties in the White House, a small media klatch for those who could afford to go to DC on short notice and an lgbt round table at Labor with no unemployed lgbt people present. Yup, that is a long list of token efforts. Well, not really.

Since Barack Obama was elected, I have lost my home, gone over a year without a job and now have no unemployment insurance, no income. I am on food stamps. More of this is coming without anyone breaking a sweat about it in the White House except for the fact that it is sweltering in DC right now. Fierce advocate? Not even.

So I am going to connect the dots that seem obvious to me. We are depending on the same people for our equal rights who have not come even close to providing the promise of this country. If we worked hard and made some contributions to our communities there would be an agreement of security when things went bad.

Thanks to “the coalition of the heartless, the clueless and the confused”, who all went home for bbq’s in their home states while leaving millions unable to pay their bills or maybe even eat, let alone barbecue, the anxiety level of all Americans went up.

Many moons ago when I worked at a non-profit in the barrio, a family came to us with their baby. The baby had a bread bag for a diaper because the family didn’t have money for diapers. They tried to give the baby to us because they were so sure their poverty would be the end of their baby. They loved this little girl so much they tried to give her to people who they though could take care of her.

I wept that day and I weep today thinking about how many families in this, the richest country in the world, can have a government that can be so heartless to leave us all without any hope.

Where is our President, he of the golden oratory but lack of drive? Where is the hope from the White House? Where is the pressure to deliver hope and equality from this administration? Missing in action.

I know what it looks like for a person to be working for our greater good. I haven’t seen it. I had such hope in 2008. Now all I have is hope that my food stamps come through this week.
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