Monday, October 27, 2008

One working mom weighs in…

As I sit here at my desk, eyes burning red from strain of staring at this computer, fall allergies causing my head to swell and ache, 3 moderately well tempered children entertaining themselves in the other room, I’m thinking and feeling like I’ve some how lost myself in all this election craze. I have with colleagues from work, fellow community organizers, activists and varieties of “concerned citizens” participated in a range of Election Connection Outreach activities. I have registered voters, trained numerous volunteers to do the same. I have passed out voter education materials explaining everything from voter ID laws to how to find and understand a sample ballot. I have called more folks than I ever would want to be in touch with, (as I am really not a phone person, I’m still riddled over the fact that you can get cancer right in your cranium for talking on the darned cell for too long, Not to mention my own family is lucky to hear from me every blue moon, my voice live and in person for them to choke a surprised “hey to” out of their throats, anyway I digress)… encouraging the masses to go vote; vote early, vote absentee, vote on the 4th, vote in advance, but for God’s love GO VOTE!

Today I’m trying to figure out if I have done myself and you, the beloved object of my Election Connection obsession, any good deed. Did I even help to make a change in this “historic” election season? Will my efforts be counted as “part of history”? Well you see it’s not that I’m looking to have my name recorded in the history books, though I think my home schooled daughter would find that rather kool, she certainly made enough of a personal contribution of time, paper cut fingers and unwanted guest appearances at every pro-vote activity in Metro Atlanta. But like I said it’s not the recognition I seek, it’s really knowing my efforts made a difference in the life of a disenfranchised person. Then I thought, do I even need to look outside of myself to evaluate my own effectiveness?

When have my issues been uplifted in any of the debates promoted more heavily and in quite the same fashion as the MTV or BET Awards shows I don’t have the time and can’t afford the cable (bill) to watch? I have heard no one, NO ONE speak about the need for family flexibility policies so that this hard working, civically involved mom can take time from a hectic schedule of organizing the disenfranchised, on behalf of the electoral process to actually go and vote! Yes, yes, I know I have 2 hours with which to “make my voice known” and I am blessed (not lucky, BLESSED) to have a job that informs and educates me about my rights, but what about the masses of other women out there, blessed only to be alive during these “historic times”? Sure my efforts have touched many, but I dare say luck has not made a long term visit at their crib for many a moon. What about them? They are registered, with polling places confirmed, rides to the polls set up, and not a clue about who to vote for or why? Not one tangible piece of evidence that their vote will insure the passing of crucial (local) legislation such as the Georgia Minimum Wage Bill or the Parent Protection Act or uplift the need for national recognition of issues surrounding workplace equality, and social-economic equity. Who are the candidates really and why aren’t they talking about what they are really going to do to positively and productively enhance my life, my financial outlook and guarantee the promise of a healthy future for my children? Certainly they (my children) gave enough (of me) to have me wonder why aren’t the issues really being discussed. And I don’t mean discussed amongst the “enfranchised” voting elite, but why aren’t those in power calling me at home between 5pm – 9pm begging for my opinion on this catastrophe of and economy they created and I work like a slave (yes I said it) to bail out! When will someone stop trying to make me feel like its all too complicated for me to understand, while ensuring me that they are acting now (have always) and have every intentions to act after November 4th on my best behalf. They need to be asking me about “how I can pay a car note, pay rent, purchase food and buy gas every month, not to mention household items, seasonal clothing for both of my children, and even rent a movie every once in a while. I manage to take my children to culturally engaging events and activities, support a variety of social justice causes with time (&YES money), and visit my mother twice a month in a nursing home in Macon (not by my choice, that’s our great Healthcare system not working for working families such as mine) where she convalesces from a massive stroke and aneurism that devastated her, my brother, myself and my two small children almost 3 years ago now. How do I do it? What’s my secret, and am I willing to accept a cabinet post to help the rest of the country do it, balance their damn checkbooks and live within their means?

Well, that may be going too far, I like my job, my little townhouse and my life here in Atlanta, Georgia, but my point is until I see, hear, taste and smell more [dialogs] that reflect my reality, I’m not really moved. I’m not at all inspired. I haven’t yet, but will go vote. I intended to go today, but I had work to do. And I will continue to motivate the masses, but I am hoping many will join me and say “WHAT ABOUT US REALLY?” And the only reason why any of this election stuff matters is because I matter. I am working like a slave (again, if I wanna claim that ancestral heritage bond I feel deep in my soul and see reflected in every face in my community) and now you greedy massa’s want the chitt’lins for yourselves too!

In solidarity,

Shyria C.

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