Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Does Racial and Economic Justice inform your work? Hmmm...I'm poor and brown, so Yes!

This was a question that was asked of me at a recent interview. Laughter escaped when I first heard the question. I looked at this young gender non conforming white american with european lineage and wanted to give her/him a hug. I wanted to hug her/him because obviously they didn't read my resume. XOXOXO

I wake up everyday as a poor brown person so yes, Racial and Economic Justice informs my work. Personally and professionally, I have a close affinity to what is happening and what can happen, .

My recent plight into the unemployed was a result of being the low man on the academic ladder. When the funding was gone so was I. I wasn't an MD nor a PhD. I didn't have 10 years in the system. I was the newest employee with the least amount to contribute so I was given my walking papers. That was a year ago.

I worked all my adult life as someone who is informed by racial inequality and the stench of class. I grew up on a poor reservation. I guess that is a double check for me.

I was afforded many opportunities because of white guilt and white liberalism. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy my white compadres. They are my brethren. I just choose not to carry their privilege for them. I also choose not to forgive them when they do not want to do the hard work of figuring out where they came from – own your role in oppression, contribute to dismantling the crappy system, inaction=validation.

I've painstakingly endured many tables of people who gave lipservice to racial and economic justice. When I would raise the question of why is the Executive Director being paid below a liveable wage, I would get 'the look'. That look that indicated I didn't read the code book on community organizing and activism.

There are many mentors whose worked I've enjoyed that are now living as poor as those they worked so tirelessly for. They are waiting for their minuscule Social Security checks. They are waiting for Medicaid to pay for their meds. Where is the community now?

Am I the only one that thinks this is a travesty?

I work on behalf of disenfranchised, poor communities of color but does this require that I continue to live like one? I drive a 15 year old car, live on food stamps, don't answer my phone because it might be a creditor, buy my clothes at good will - isn't that enough?  Now I have to buy free range chicken that is helluva expensive. I have to go to the food co-op which is soo pricey that my 'fooders' don't last that long. I'm also now worried as hell my carbon print is sooo big.

Can someone just give me the damn book? I am someone who is just trying to do the right thing. There is a class war going on and I don't know what or who to believe.

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