I’ve done a really poor job blogging here this semester, partly because I’ve been dealing with a lot of grief, partly because I haven’t had much time (how did I get roped into doing fourteen, now ten, extracurriculars so easily? Why is it so hard for me to say no to people?), and partly because I feel like anything I blog here should be something groundbreaking or incredibly interesting, given how much content already exists on the internet. Why are people going to read something mundane?
But you know what? Screw it. I’m going to blog about my life because the people in it matter and I don’t think society gives them enough of a voice. So…
How is my life going?
Well, let me describe it through the people who are in it.
Kaylee is back. Last spring her mom had made the tough decision to move the two of them to rural PA, somewhere in the Poconos, because living is cheaper there, the schools are better, and, generally, she thought it wouldn’t be as f*ed up of a place for her daughter to grow up. It was really really sad, of course, to have to say goodbye to Kaylee last spring, with the thought that I would never see her again. She is such a bright young girl, only five years old, but with the attention span of a nine-year-old according to her doctor. I loved just getting to hang out with her, doing arts and crafts together, going over color and shape flashcards, the sounds that letters make, etc. I wasn’t sure what I would do this year when she didn’t show up every Tuesday and Thursday. I loved tutoring her.
However, this year, at the Back to School Night, as I was sitting in the community room of the library, registering people, I looked up, only to see the flash of her mother’s long ponytail walking through the door to the library. I freaked out. Quietly of course, and as I signed someone in, but nonetheless. I couldn’t leave the table, so I quietly waited and hoped that it was her and that she would come in. About thirty minutes later, she and Kaylee came in, casual as ever, and I flipped out. Okay, not really. But I’m pretty sure the smile on my face was self-explanatory. The circumstances surrounding Kaylee’s return are pretty rough. Apparently, her mom found a lot of the people where they lived to be bigoted. Kaylee’s mom is white, but Kaylee herself is bi-racial, and a lot of the children in the area were mean to her because of that. So Kaylee’s mom made the tough decision to move back to Chester, where at least she would be close to family, even if the school district is a hot mess. I can’t handle sometimes the decisions people have to make in their lives, between being in a racist area and being in an area where the school district last year literally went bankrupt. I’m having a hard time dealing with social inequality right now and just the way we, as a society, especially us white suburban dwellers, just let it happen, and accept it as the way the world is. Life’s tough, especially on those who have so much potential, but were born on the “wrong” side of the tracks. However, I, personally, am so glad to have Kaylee back in the program.
On an even happier note, Kaylee’s mom was so incredibly proud today. Kaylee’s in kindergarten at one of the charter schools. It’s only her second month of school (her first full month), and already she’s been named “student of the month.” Kaylee was pretty chill about the whole thing (Getting recognized in a school wide assembly the day before her birthday? Whatever.), but I could tell her mom was just so incredibly pleased and affirmed, as she walking around the library holding the little pink pamphlet announcing her daughter’s award. How often do you think a single, low-income mom gets recognized by society for being a good parent? Not often. Not often at all. Blame is more the name of the game, and single low-income “welfare” moms get so much flak. Given what’s been said in the presidential debates over the past few weeks, especially in regards to gun control, it’s almost as if these moms are more likely to raise serial murderers than bright, intelligent students. I was glad to see that Kaylee’s mom at least doesn’t have to feel that way, and, honestly, I think we should create a day, separate from mother’s day, for single moms or low-income/welfare moms. They don’t deserve all of the constant criticism and stigmatization.
Another group of people who also don’t deserve the constant flak and criticism they get? Folks who are homeless. I’m beginning to realize that this is a part of society I care deeply about, more than just through SREHUP. I’ve come to the realization that I really don’t like this election cycle, or either of the campaigns very much, because both focus so much on the “middle class” and creating jobs for the “middle class”and neither talks very much about the growing number of people in poverty and all of the potential people within that category have. It’s so frustrating to see a population that in many ways has already had it’s voice taken away from it, be even more blatantly ignored. While I can’t change this election cycle, or grab the candidates by the shoulders and give them a good shake, telling them there are issues in this country far deeper than people in the middle class not having jobs, I can change how and where I spend my time. Obviously, when the weather gets cold, and the SREHUP shelters start again, I plan to head back to Arch Street, no matter my class schedule, and hang out with the wonderful men there, but in the meantime, I’ve found myself a new church. That’s right. Dramatic (or maybe not so dramatic), life change, I’ve decided to, expect for occasionally, leave my quite lovely (don’t get me wrong) white suburban church behind and head to the city to go to church on Sunday evenings at Broad Street Ministries.
Funny story how this decision happened… actually, a quite long story as well, and involving someone I care as deeply about as Kaylee and her mom, so maybe I’ll save it for Part II of this post. Needless to say, I’m a little frustrated right now by politics, media, and just the way, generation after generation, we continue to propagate and accept social inequality, but none of that’s new. I’ve always felt that way. I guess I’m just being more vocal about it now.
To end on a more upbeat note, GIANT gave us another $250 giftcard for the afterschool program this week, which brings them to a grand total of $500 of donations towards our little club so far. We are so stocked up on juice boxes now. It’s crazy. I’m so happy for their generosity (especially when grocery stores often have only a 1% to 2% profit margin). Next step… getting Exxon Mobil to share the corporate love! Just kidding. I would have a hard time accepting their money. But for all the frustration I have toward corporations and the social systems that capitalism reifies, I do really appreciate when companies are generous and think outside of their own welfare and pocketbook. It’s great. Thanks, GIANT!