Thought for the Day:

If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me.

Tom Dreeson

Question for the Day:

Are you expecting too much from the government?

I am so sorry for my delayed posting everyone.  I’ve had a very busy new year so far, and its been all I can do to maintain reasonable job performance at work and manage my family’s intensifying schedule in the face of dwindling motivation.  It’s difficult to encourage other people to think positive when the current state of our country and world often has me feeling less than optimistic myself.  I spent the majority of last month dreading the inauguration of Donald Trump and counting all the ways I was going to miss Barack and Michelle’s presence in the White House.  Seems no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get Boyz to Men’s “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” out of my head as Donald Trump began to move on the White House like a bitch.  However, I desire to be a source of inspiration for anyone who follows this blog, and I want to take my own advice and not let the newly whitewashed administration damper my attitude….. but I’m struggling.

It’s difficult to hope for a bright future when it feels as if we’ve all entered a lost episode of the Twilight Zone in which someone intentionally hit the reset button on American History.  I want to believe that I matter in this country, but the reality is, America elected a man endorsed by the Klu Klux Klan.  That pretty much proves that like Michael Jackson once sang, “they don’t really care about us,” or at least not all of us.

So, my next question is, what now?  How does a person begin to move forward in a country that has proven itself to be biased against minorities and women?  And as a minority woman, what can I do to combat this exclusionary mentality that might relegate me and my loved ones to the bench while the White and wealthy are the only ones allowed to hit the field?  I could do like so many others and take to the streets in protest.  I could march, boycott, sit-in and write my congressman which are all valid steps toward taking a stand and I truly respect the power of protest.  I believe that Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, Rosa Parks, Al Sharpton, Sen. John Lewis, Medgar Evers, Nelson Mandela, Fannie Lou Hamer, Harriet Tubman, Huey P. Newton, Gloria Steinem, and many others taught us an invaluable lesson.  They all demonstrated by their example that there is a time to reject intolerance and hate.  There is a time to refuse to comply, resist unjust laws, and use your collective economic power by refusing to spend money  that supports the interests of those who oppress you.  There is a battle to be fought and won and we all need to determine what side of this fight we’re on, get engaged and prepare for battle.

However, as important as ‘fighting the power’ might be, I believe that we are most dangerous, effective and powerful when we realize that the change we’re after should not be expected first from others, but should start from within. (See: Black Mystery Month)  I am frankly tired of begging and pleading other people to stop being racist, stop being chauvinist, stop being misogynistic, and stop seeing me as less than what I am.  At this stage of the game, I’m more interested in what I need to do to succeed and ensure that the weapons my enemy desires to use against me, will not prosper.  The idea that our validation, safety, and security rests in the hands of our government has always been a slippery slope, but with Donald Trump at the helm, it’s likely a recipe for disaster.  Therefore, I propose a shift in perspective.  I’m suggesting that we can no longer afford to wait on the government to change its perspective on us, but do for ourselves what others are simply not willing to.  I’m not going to waste energy expecting someone like Donald Trump to change his mind about me.  Instead, I’ve decided that I need to be my own representative and live life in a way that will make me as immune to his bigoted policies as possible. Though I cannot avoid racism and bigotry, I won’t make it easy for anyone to victimize me either.  If you come for this law-abiding, educated, gainfully employed, fully engaged wife and mother who also happens to be a social work professional, your bigotry will be obvious because only racists hate in the face of their target’s excellence.  If you don’t believe me, just ask Barack Obama. I refuse to let my value be determined by anyone else, least of all Donald Trump.  I didn’t vote for him, but I can absolutely vote for myself.

I plan to spend this year discussing the changes we can all make in our individual lives that will help us survive a Trump Presidency.  Everything we do from this point on matters.  Here are a few things we should no longer expect from this new America and what it might mean for those of us at risk for being caught in the crosshairs.

DON’T EXPECT: Equality and fair treatment in the criminal justice system.

With Trump vowing to be the “law and order” President and an Attorney General with a history of racist practices, we should not expect that the mass incarceration epidemic will subside anytime soon.

What Does it Mean?  It means, keep your behind out of jail!  Now unfortunately, for minorities, there’s not always a way to avoid being profiled or wrongfully accused.  If you are falsely accused of a crime and have minimal resources to defend yourself, it might be that even living on the up and up is not a guarantee, which is a tragic reality.  However, intentionally living on the wrong side of the law has never been more dangerous. If you honestly want to survive in a country that has decided you don’t matter, it might be time to rethink the thug life.

DON’T EXPECT: The government to care about your health and well-being.

Trump and his posse wasted no time in taking steps to repeal Obamacare and are, for some odd reason, proud to be yanking affordable health insurance from millions of Americans.  There have also been talks of cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid which means the support systems many people have come to rely on are in jeopardy.

What Does it Mean? This means that it might be time to cut back on the Cokes, Whoppers, and soul food and start getting more familiar with the produce section at your local grocery store.  We might need to chill on the Newports and Hennessy and start moving our body like Michelle Obama told us to.  If we refuse to make health a priority, I believe we’ll be in for a rude awakening when it becomes clear just how little money has been invested in keeping us alive.

DON’T EXPECT: The government to care about poverty. 

We all know that Republicans are always hollering about “entitlements” and I’m sure they will get busy slashing other programs including affordable housing, food subsidies, and aid to dependent children.

What Does it Mean? It means, let’s get back into school, and take a class at a time if you have to.  It may mean working as many jobs as you are able to, cutting frivolous spending, focusing on saving, and investing more time and energy into your children’s education so they will learn not to depend on the government for support.  As a social worker, I know how important certain programs are for needy families, but I no longer trust that my government is willing to acknowledge institutionalized racism and other disparities and disadvantages that make this support so vital for some.  Therefore it’s critical that we work against a welfare mentality and focus on doing whatever we can do reduce our dependence on anyone other than ourselves. See: Wake up, Wake up! (It’s The First of the Month)

DON’T EXPECT: The government to care about a woman’s reproductive rights or the special challenges of womanhood or motherhood. 

I am not an abortion advocate, but I recognize that it is not my place to be judge and jury over another woman’s body or choices.  However, our government seems to be taking steps to interfere in a woman’s right to decide for herself what to do about an unplanned pregnancy.  This is especially ironic considering its intolerance of “entitlements” that would support a poor, single mother if she decided to give birth to her child.

What Does it Mean? This means, though you may pride yourself on ‘turning up” and “getting your freak on” you’re asking for trouble if you’re not exercising discernment in choosing your partners, practicing safe sex when you are sexually active, and setting yourself up for healthy relationships. Being smarter about your decisions and your approach to relationships in general can minimize the risk of more fatherless, single-parented, and economically disadvantaged homes that would be at the mercy of a Trump administration for assistance.

DON’T EXPECT: The government to acknowledge that all lives matter. 

In his first month in office, Trump has managed to trample over the rights of Native Americans by approving pipeline construction that puts the protected territory of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation at risk.  He’s also moved to ban many peaceful and lawful Muslims from entering the country, and has reaffirmed his commitment to building a wall to keep Mexicans out of the country despite their contribution to American industry.  There seems to be a growing disdain for people who are different as evidenced by the increasing hate crimes occurring all over the country.  It is simply not safe to be a minority in this country, and frankly, never has been.

What Does it Mean? This means that our lives have to matter to us first.  If we object to the unnecessary killing of unarmed Black men by police, we have to be equally appalled by the unnecessary killing of one by another Black man.  If we will not tolerate others using racial slurs or insults towards us, we cannot use them against each other.  If we know that the government will not advocate for poor and single parent homes, lets work harder to maintain our relationships, stay married, and keep both parents in the home for their children.  If the government will not advocate for our children if they get caught up in the criminal justice system, lets rally around our youth by teaching, mentoring, and guiding them away from a life of crime.  Let’s work harder to stay sober minded and refuse to contribute to the destruction of our own people by peddling poison and enabling behavior that does not edify and uplift our community.  As an African American woman, I have always supported the efforts of the Black Lives Matter Movement but I maintain that Black lives have to matter MOST to Black people if we are ever going to reach our maximum potential.

There is nothing wrong with demanding that our political leaders acknowledge our interests and work on behalf of ALL the people they were elected to serve.  However, my name is not Vladimir Putin, so I didn’t have anything to do with Donald Trump winning the Presidency.  Yet, even though he may have won this first round, the rest of us still have a chance.  As long as we remain focused, creative, ambitious, smart, and play the hand we were dealt with integrity and skill, we can still win this game.  He might have the name, but YOU and I are the Trump cards, and there’s never been a better time to play them.

“What then shall we say in response to these things?

 If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Romans 8:31

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