Tag Archives: Ferguson

What’s With the Middle Class? (The Monday Fits)

what-is-your-problem

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein


It’s time to be a little direct. There is something wrong with the middle class. Politicians, theorists, and writers tell us time and time again, that the middle class is the social class that matters most. “Depending on the class model used, the middle class constitutes anywhere from 25% to 66% of households”, but the most legit models all have the middle class as the majority. (Source)  More pointed, many believe that the continuing existence of America depends on the success of the middle class. I would say the middle class has a lot of power.  The upper and lower middle class, create the largest voting bloc, yet we do very little with this power to influence. Instead, we are the ones who are influenced, let others speak for us, and define our future. (Trust me – Google – What does the middle class care about, middle class priorities, what is important to the middle class, the results are interesting)

So let’s look at #BaltimoreUprising. Many ponder how the events over the past two weeks could happen in an American city in 2015. Why they are pondering, I am not exactly sure, Ferguson feels like yesterday to me. I ponder more about what could be done to fix the problem, and do we really care enough to fix the problem? I found, as did many other Americans, the major network’s media coverage of the riots to be a farce and self-serving versus a balanced, honest coverage of the events that were occurring. More and more, we can’t rely on our mainstream media. There was peaceful protesting. There were rioters. There was unnecessary violence. But more times than not, there were teenages, adults, gang members, church members, and even local politicians protesting the violence against our young black men in America peacefully. Luckily, last week ended on a positive note, with indictments being served to the officers. Not because the officers are automatically assumed guilty, but justice, as best as it can be, will be served in a trial for those innocent till proven guilty officers.

Now back to the media. Would we, the middle class, ever protest and stop watching the inadequate mainstream media that continues to feed us crap. Would we ever demand more from them so that we could be a more informed class since we consume more of it then any other class? NO, NO and MORE NO. The first episode of HBO’s NEWSROOM so eloquently makes this point, and yet, we still allow ourselves to be bamboozled.  And the sad reality is that these passive behaviors do not only occur in the media we consume, it’s everywhere. So when I look at the events of Baltimore, yes, I do believe the middle class is the biggest problem. We are not demanding more of our politicians, of our cities, our governments, and we are not giving enough. We might not have enough time, our lives are stressful just like everyone else, but we also have the power to change things in the lives of our citizens who are less fortunate than ourselves.

There is no denying that we hold the largest voting bloc, and can potentially have the most influence. Yet, we do not use this power to our advantage, which would be fine, but when the results of our passivity comes upon us, we cannot act like we have no hand in the matter. If middle america doesn’t start waking up to the America as it is, the working class, and lower class will continue to grow. Karlyn Bowman and Jennifer Marsico write:

“In an Allstate/National Journal poll, 85 percent said that over the past few years, the number of Americans who had fallen out of the middle class is greater than the number who had earned or worked their way into it (11 percent).(source)

Many would think that we should look to the wealthy and those with more resources to fix the problem. Do you know what they spend their money on? They spend their money convincing us of whatever they want us to believe, and we fall for it every time. They know more about us, than we know about ourselves: that we have more power to fix our problems than we realize. Reihan Salam  on Slate writes:

“We often hear about the political muscle of the ultrarich. Billionaires like the libertarians Charles and David Koch and Tom Steyer, the California environmentalist who’s been waging a one-man jihad against the Keystone XL pipeline, have become bogeymen for the left and right respectively. The influence of these machers is considerable, no doubt. Yet the upper middle class collectively wields far more influence.These are households with enough money to make modest political contributions, enough time to email their elected officials and to sign petitions, and enough influence to sway their neighbors. ” (Source)

And he’s just talking about the upper middle class. We choose to fall for advertising and what the “machine” give us. When the Koch brothers came out a few weeks ago about having Republican candidates vie for 300 million dollars, where was the outrage? It was like the Koch brothers were ring masters making them perform like circus animals. Every republican candidate or potential candidate should have been appalled and ALL of them should have revolted. I found it very insulting, but I guess I was the only one. Because all of the candidates understand one thing, that they need the money. Not because they need money, most of the candidates have more money than you or I, but they need the money to FOOL us, TRICK us, to feed us some story. Now, it’s not a Republican thing, Hillary and the other democrats are ripe to play to middle america too, cause we got the power and we don’t know how to use it. We have the ability to go against policies, regulations, or actions that are not in our best interest, and make everyone pay attention! Not to be trite, but if we had just an ounce of the revolutionary spirit of our forefathers, we may could get things on track. Its time to throw tea off a harbor.

Anyone should be able to see from the Baltimore riots, that there are systematic, generational problems that are plaguing the community as  in other urban cities across the country. Some people cannot recognize this. They are the ones who want us to focus on buildings and the damage. Seriously, CVS can afford to fix that damn building, trust me, but some of the families in the community do not know if they will have a roof over their head next week AND their caregiver IS working 2 or 3 jobs. The next group of people believe that money is the biggest problem, and having more money or throwing money will fix the problem. Well, if we’re talking about giving more Americans working a living wage, then YES, more money could help. “In 2012, 2.9 million Americans worked full-time jobs and still lived below the poverty line. Some 22 percent of our children live in poverty, and it’s worse for African American youth—38 percent—and Hispanic children—34 percent”. (source) 

But the reality is that it takes people. It takes creating capacity in our communities to help break through the strongholds poverty has on these  families, and not let those in charge fall into corruption. It takes more than a village, it’s takes us all. And since we’ll never get 100% participation, make sure you’re not one of the  people who is unwilling to make a difference.

I don’t like to be too definitive in my posts, because I prefer for people to make their conclusions and start their own conversations. We just are not doing enough. I may have a slight bias, because I am raising money for my community, and I see people who will not offer a dime to it, but will pay all kinds of money to see artists who do not NEED their money.  But more importantly, I see too many people in my own sphere, not just my close friends and friends, but people I work with, drink with, network with, are more likely to be doing everything to make their lives and loved ones better, but not much else. If the only things you can do is go to work, take care of your family, kids, and not much else, just imagine doing the same thing, each and every day but what you do isn’t enough to put food on your table, pay your rent, you’re not on welfare because you have a job, your spouse has a job. You are not a “statistic”, but you can’t make enough to get by. And every time your child walks out the house, you have to worry if they will make it home alive. Wouldn’t you cry out for help? Poverty, more times than not is a systematic, generational curse, that is easy to leave only for a few. You can continue to be passive and act as if it’s not your problem, and wait till it’s at your front door. Will you be more worried about the buildings and pass the blame, or will you look at the mirror and realize that you could’ve done more. Don’t let that happen, just do more now.

M/P

Denying That We Have a Race Problem is Un-American (The Monday Fits)

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The events of Ferguson have a lot of people doing, saying, spewing all kinds of love, hate, and fear to each other in their homes, at work, and all over social media. These actions are fueled by life experiences that shape their perspective in one way or another. However, after seeing what some people choose to share, I’m realizing sometimes the quote, “Your perception is your reality” is hogwash, in terms of this country and race relations. My experience is not completely unique, but as I grow older, I wonder if it is less than the norm.

I grew up in Lexington, Kentucky in a very particular situation, where I had one of the best upbringings in a truly diverse and creative environment. I attended a performing arts school that entrenched in me a confidence like no other and conviction of equality quite different for the average young black girl. In my life, I have some amazing friends who are white. Not where I am a token type of white friends, or the friends who make you feel a little awkward and don’t really know where you are coming from and every now and then they say the wrong thing.  I have the kind of white friends who talk about race, my hair, our differences in a real way, among a million other topics, do you know why? Because that is what it means to be a real friend with a person of color. It is who I am every day, and sometimes I have to talk about it, even when they might not exactly understand why.

However, I learned from my early days at Tuskegee University, a historically black college, that these type of relationships are rare, and my American experience has been different.  When you ask a black person, do you see yourself “Black” first or “American”, most will say Black, and a black person who thrives as a token will say American first. I will say that I am Black American, and there is no separation. I am as proud to be an American, as I am to be Black, because I truly see America as land of opportunity, even for me as person of color.

So before Obama was elected, I viewed America as many Americans did, that we really did not have a race problem, I mean we may have a few issues, but it’s not a problem. I was at a point that I truly believed it. America was not full of people who had biases at a disproportionate amount and that people had such negative impressions of Black Americans. This did not mean I had not experienced racism, or knew family members who had faced it as well. However, my experiences in my upbringing, really made me believe that these were just the after effects of a racist culture that couldn’t help but linger, because in the millennium, America was a welcoming place for all. Obama’s election changed everything, and the problem that existed has been surfacing since.

In the month of Obama’s inauguration (January 2009), 79 percent of whites and 63 percent of blacks held a favorable view of race relations. The data show a decline of 27 points for whites and 25 points for blacks by 2013. (source).  . According to the most recent survey, conducted by CBS News/New York Times, 47% said good, with whites polling at 49  percent of whites and 44 percent of blacks now have a favorable opinion of race relations in the U.S. (source). Slight difference, huh?

I’ll never forget his first election night, I was in a room full of Black Americans excited about the election of the first black president , who I didn’t even vote for. I am Republican, and I believe that my ancestors did not fight and die for me to simply vote based on my race. I was happy to have a black president, yes, but I voted on the principles for the candidate that best supported all of my interests and my party. And since that day, I have debated so many people on whether black americans should vote on race. They argue that because our interests are always underrepresented and disregarded, it’s our responsibility to vote as such.

I would not even consider that thinking at the time, but since Obama’s presidency, my blinders have been taken off, or shall I say ripped off.  The number of hate groups has increased exponentially, and the vitriol spewed at him, is unprecedented. “The number of Patriot groups, including armed militias, skyrocketed following the election of President Obama in 2008 – rising 813 percent, from 149 groups in 2008 to an all-time high of 1,360 in 2012. The number fell to 1,096 in 2013.” (source) . It really is though, and he’s never been my guy, but it is hard not to notice, unless you have on blinders. Now speed up to the past couple of years, as the string of deaths of young black men and women have been heavily publicized. Check the twitter and Facebook feeds,  I find myself looking at an America that I did not even know existed. Everyone wants to call it race baiting or pulling the race card, but the reality is that there are a lot people who say whatever they want and say it is not racism. Then the rest of America doesn’t want to wake up to the America that we live in.

I am black, so it was a little easier for my binders to eventually come off. But can you imagine if you were born and you have never been followed, ignored, called a derogatory term, seen family members racially profiled, beat up, and wrongfully arrested. Would you think that there is a problem?  Not to mention, Beyonce, Jay -Z, Oprah and Obama run the world, right?

Here’s the thing: You cannot tell Black Americans that racism doesn’t exist, and that some actions are not racist. I am not asking people to go out of your comfort zone, or to even get your hands dirty, but what I want for people to do is for people to stop talking about something that they don’t know anything about; an experience that you cannot imagine.  And then to have the  audacity to talk about how you love America; this IS America. It is not always rainbows and butterflies, and until we ALL realize it, the country will stay divided and not improve.

But at the same time, I would say there are Black people who need to engage people of other races about our differences, and not when it’s a fight or calling out racism. I find that being able to talk about race freely is important for progress, and we have to stop reserving certain  topics for black people only, even if it feels a little awkward. Even I have had stereotypes about other minorities, but do you know how I learned that my thinking was wrong. I spoke up. I asked. It was a little uncomfortable, but I am a little better for it.

Now the day after the indictment was released about the Mike Brown shooting, I was perusing my twitter feed, and looking at comments ranging from anger, hurt to hate. I ended up having a small twitter fight, back and forth, with a woman who was saying that ALL blacks, not some, but ALL  BLACKS were animals. She was educated. She was a former marine. Yet, she was ignorant. It was one thing to support Officer Wilson and his version of the events, but there were many more people who took their opportunity to discuss the problem with black people, problem with black on black crime, and the way we “act”. I want to believe people are better than this, but we need to speak up, because we have race problem. It’s not racist to think race problems don’t exist in America, it’s simply un-American. Just as un-american as thinking we don’t have a poverty problem, a health care problem, an unemployment problem, a “creating jobs” problem, an immigration problem, or “our children are dying in our schools” problem. I’m not saying race is our ONLY problem, but it sure is a hell of a problem.

The Economist magazine recently published an article saying “ Race is America’s deepest problem, but multiple small changes can mitigate it”. and that “Solving the problems of places like Ferguson is less about passing more anti-discrimination laws than about rekindling economic growth and spreading the proceeds. But there are also ways of making politics and policing work better that would contribute greatly to racial harmony in America. (source)And so this is all I am asking, that we wake up to the reality that we have a problem, and push our lawmakers, and communities to do something about it, because it is un-American to continue living this way.