Autographed Letter Signed

A Mostly Center-Right Place For Those With Irritable Obama Syndrome and Diversity Fatigue

Happy Birthday Autographed Letter Signed April 8, 2010

Cakes By One of my favorite artists, Wayne Thiebaud

A sense of accomplishment is in the air. Today is the first anniversary of ALS. Wow an entire year. What brought me, lil ol’ Afrocity to create this blog in the first place? In short, after not quite fitting in at The Confluence and not quite fitting in at Little Green Footballs (which turned out to be a liberal blog disguised as a center right blog or some strange experiment in blogger as evil puppet master), I decided to get my own diggs.

"Lemon cake" by Wayne Thiebaud

Shedding a political spouse, in my case the Democratic Party, required some solitude and space to explore my values. What do I really want for my country? What causes are worth fighting for? I had to ask myself these things because for so long I played in the liberal sandbox watching my pals kick down castles of military defense, christian values, parental rights and all sorts of things that really mattered to me. Externally, I muttered yeah “fuck the military!”,  “burn that flag” , “sure the government owes blacks” but internally, especially as I aged, I winced at mostly everything liberals stood for with the exception of women’s rights.   Compassion and equal opportunity for all is something I can agree with.  I had it in me to be a good liberal, however I also had it in me to be a better conservative.

There is a difference between being a compassionate person and an enabler.  Liberals have a tendency to dramatize the human condition,  particularly that of minorities and any one they see as down-trodden.   When you just spend, spend, spend money- tax dollars- on “compassionate programs” , you have to take a step back in order to see if those programs are really helping anyone or are they enabling a persistent problem to turn into a generational saga.   Let’s take welfare programs for example and you know how I feel about those.

"Watermelon Slices" by Wayne Thiebaud

One of the reasons I am against government assistance is because I grew up on it.  And yes, it fed me, kept me adequately healthy, but did it advance me or my mother?  No.  Did it pay for my prom dress?  No.  Prom was a big deal to a 17 year old girl.  How would the $250 government check pay for my prom gown, my hair appointment,  my #352 pink dyed shoes to match my dress and my jewelry?   The answer was, it would not.  Mother went looking for dresses at the Salvation Army store, meanwhile Afrocity began looking for a job.   This image of one of us actually working was a bit much for my mother to handle,  “you know they will cut us off, ” she warned.

"Rosebud Cakes" by Wayne Thiebaud

I did not care, I had a date with a Victor Costa gown at Nieman Marcus.   School by day, working until 1am as a hostess at a Mexican restaurant was tough.  In retrospect, it was dangerous to take the bus home so late at night.  My school work was neglected B’s morphed into C’s.  One night I was so tired, I fell asleep with the curling iron still rolled in my hair.  When you are young, you can put up with a lot and my first paycheck made all of the trouble worth it.  My first paycheck- that I earned for my work. Money not for nothing but for something I did besides being black and poor.  I came to a particular understanding that my mother had yet to achieve.  Welfare may let you survive but it doesn’t let you live.   Maybe I got the job out of necessity.  I had a need that a welfare check could not fulfill.  I had a dream about a dress but what about my life beyond the dress?  What happens when welfare will not pay for your dreams?

Republican candidates would appear on television, right away before they could speak several words, my mother would shout, “They are only for the rich people, they want to cut welfare and programs in order to hurt blacks.”    Funny how our lives did not improve much under Jimmy Carter.  Funny how mother’s life did not improve much under Bill Clinton, until she was forced to get a job because the conservative state of Texas would not let her draw a government check just for being her wonderful self.

Shakes by Wayne Thiebaud

In working, she began to buy nice things, take me to lunch, actually act and behave as mother.  When she lost the job, she lost her sense of self again.  Being 65, by that time, the government was there waiting for her to pick up the pieces.  Back she went to waiting for their check.  When she died, she had not more than $345 in her bank account.  I reported her deceased and the government took back $325 and left her with $20.  Why was I angry?  True, it was Uncle Sam’s money to give to her and she was dead.  However, could he not at least left her with some dignity and money to be buried with? He left her with what she came to him with…Nothing.  Nothing at all but her life and the clothes on her back.

The reason I created this blog was to chronicle the thoughts and feelings of a reformed liberal.  To some degree I am still evolving.  One of the problems some of my critics have with me is my ability to be so compassionate and pathetic, yet turn into a brutal critic of the Obama administration.  A lot of people, especially those of color call me a self-loathing Auntie Tom who has sold out.  They think I am really a liberal and delusional on some level about my move towards conservatism.   I have struggled this year with the enormity of my exodus from Donkeyville.   People especially, PUMA’s have posted and gone.  Once friends are now distant acquaintances in the political blogosphere.

"8 Lipsticks" by Wayne Thiebaud

Am I happier now having left the Democrats? Oh definitely yes.  That party is unrecognizable to me.  This country and the direction it is moving in is unrecognizable to me.

Am I a well rounded conservative? Oh definitely, no.  I remain pro-choice.  There are many things to admire about the pro-life movement but a woman’s choice is a woman’s choice and she should always have the freedom to make that choice.

As this blog continues, I am always hoping to attract people who are willing to hear and understand both sides of an issue.

Before you can help people, you have to first listen to them.  This simple  practice  is something that is severely lacking in the Obama administration and among many compassionate liberals.

Give people what they need, not what you think they need.  Give people the ability to help themselves, not a lifetime sentence to be helped by you.  You cannot wave a magic wand and expect to end world hunger, wars, pain, sickness, global warming and paper cuts using other people’s money.  Your reward will be debt, depression and a lowered moral among those who actually do contribute to society.

You cannot have your cake and eat it too.

Autographed Letter Signed on this our 1 year anniversary,

AFROCITY

 

Sunday Soliloquy: Damn It Feels Good To Be A Victim October 25, 2009

From I Own The World. Com

From I Own The World. Com

Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you recognize a mistake when you make it again.

F.P. Jones



My affection for grocery shopping yesterday afternoon was again trumped by my past anxieties.

Does the memory of past trauma ever end? No matter how successful I become my world will never be devoid of what came before.  Despite a fistful of coupons and a debit card to burn, here I am at the grocery store still feeling like a victim.

Afrocity, you do not deserve those $3.49 Sea Salt & Vinegar Kettle Chips in the organic aisle.

Afrocity, do you really need that pre-packaged salad? Are you too lazy to cut up a head of lettuce?

How dare you buy that 1/2 pound of imported genoa salami just because it tastes better when the domestic is on sale?

I was guilt-ridden and self loathing at the deli-counter. I asked for co-jack cheese, salami, Vienna corned beef, and old fashioned loaf.

Why so greedy? Just how many sandwiches can you make Afrocity?

What was I thinking? I went to the grocer’s market on an empty stomach and a head filled with bad memories of standing in aisles of food which I often could not afford without the government’s help.

Rarely did mom ever stand at a deli counter except to buy corned beef which is my favorite cold cut.  $6.00 a pound it was during the 70′s, for food stamp heads like mom and I that was a luxury…but we bought it anyway.

“Just because we are on welfare does not mean we have to eat like it,”  mother would often say when she would get a cold stare from the supermarket cashier. She was paranoid that because they were white, they felt that blacks should not eat as well. Especially when those blacks happened to be on food stamps.

Philadelphia Ad for Food Stamps

From "Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger"

“Because they are white and have to struggle to pay for groceries, they think we should too.”

“How can you tell they are struggling?” I asked.

“Look at them! Would you want to work all day bagging groceries?”

I shook my head. Bagging did look like a boring job.

“Well, neither do they… I would rather have NO JOB than to do that all day long.”

Obama_FoodStamp-1Mother’s wisdom was never plain. Tempered with bitterness and the frustration of underdog-dom, she cleverly turned our situation into something that was enviable and virtuous.

“We get corned beef and she gets bologna…and what did I tell you about bologna?” she asked, handing me the lightest bag of groceries.

policybasics-foodstamps-f1Frowning at the mere mention of the word, I proved to mother that I knew my lessons well.  “Bologna is bad for black people and made by whites to slowly poison us with poor nutrition. Just like Oscar Meyer corn dogs and possessed meat.”

“Processed meats,” she corrected. ” P R O C E S S ED.”

I nodded. “No fat, only lean cuts. It is a sin to eat fat the USDA is a liar and so is Nestle.”

Mother nodded, we were ready to retrace our steps back home, hands full of groceries.

Now she left me in 2009, starring off into space as the deli-counter lady was slicing my corned beef.  I don’t need all of this meat but I was hungry and got greedy.  I can’t ask her to stop now.  There are moments when it seems to me that I will never deserve that pound of corned beef. It didn’t feel good then and it doesn’t feel much better now that I can afford it with my own money that I worked for.

As usual ZoNation sums up everything for me this week. My favorite African American conservative has created a hip hop music video which discusses Obama supporters and victimhood. They call them “victicrats”


 

Sunday Soliloquy: 25$ for your thoughts August 30, 2009

Image by Hilda Wilkerson Brown (1894-1981) The Family, c. 1940 Lithograph

Image by Hilda Wilkerson Brown (1894-1981) The Family, c. 1940 Lithograph

There is a certain knack that the Irish have for an openness of manner. They can tell a story like no other. I thought this as I watched Senator Edward Kennedy’s  funeral on television yesterday.

Ted’s sons had the best stories they could offer of their father.  What would I say at my father’s funeral? We are now into our 6th year of acquaintance. Would his death be as traumatizing as that of my mother?

Obama came to the podium to deliver Ted’s eulogy. There was no emotion there that I could see.

The camera panned to Sen. John McCain. No one mentioned that yesterday was McCain’s 73rd birthday and there he was sitting at Ted Kennedy’s funeral.  That says something about the man and the relationship.

Any relationship of great magnitude requires lots of time, patience and love especially when the relationship is one of complexity, DNA and 35 years of abandonment. My father’s family is not simple, that includes myself and my two half sisters.

You may recall my half sister “Kim”. I introduced you to her in a Sunday Soliloquy post entitled : Stirring a cup of DNA and Sympathy from June 14th.  Kim was diagnosed with cervical cancer earlier this year. She has been on welfare for as long as  she can remember. Government health care programs paid for her delivery into this world as well as her sic children. and government health care will pay for her cancer treatments 43 years later.

In my last writing about Kim, I explained that while we are half sisters, I have never met her in person. I have spoken to her several times by phone. The stories Kim told me about her relationship with government health care were quite disturbing at the time. It is even more so now.

Print by African American Artist Dox Thrash

Print by African American Artist Dox Thrash

I was told that Kim has had abnormal pap smear exam results for the last 12 years before she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Kim was also not alerted to her treatment options. During our June conversation, I referred Kim to my own gynecologist offering to pay anything that welfare could not. While my gynecologist did contact Kim, she explained that she could not treat Kim when she was so late into her diagnosis. Again Kim bounced from welfare doctor to welfare doctor while her tumor grew in centimeters.

Once she finally found a doctor, he informed her that her condition was serious enough that a hysterectomy was not the way to proceed. She would need chemotherapy because the cancer had spread into her lymph nodes.  Her new doctor wanted to know why Kim had over a decade of abnormal pap smears and nothing was done.

“It just doesn’t go away” said Kim’s doctor.

Intervals of silence marked our conversation. The helper in me wanted to scold her for not taking her health into her own hands but my well worn need to care for someone had waned. A sister is someone you’ve shared a bed with,fought over who gets to dress the baby doll. You tell a sister stories of your first love, you share the same family. Kim was a stranger to me and my heart did not know where to station itself. I had been a shy petitioner for my father’s acceptance, now was I expected to give my all for someone I hardly knew?

A lull in the conversation prompted me to ask Kim if she wanted to meet in person, again. Unlike the times when I asked before, Kim did not enthusiastically answer “yes”.  Within her voice, I could hear hesitation. Next came my offer to make a home cooked meal.

“Do your chemo treatments impact your diet much? ” I asked.

“No not really,” she replied. “I just want to eat boiled stuff like potatoes.”

“Do you eat meat?”

“Yes, it is like I am not on chemo at all. People look at me and cannot believe that I have cancer. I make everyone at the hospital laugh. I wish they would tell me everything, the story changes every time.”

Charlotte by Dox Thrash

Charlotte by Dox Thrash

The conversation went back to her treatment again, so presumably I felt that she needed someone to talk about it with. I drew a long breath, I felt I was not the right person. Kim had never seen my face. “Doesn’t it seem to you that dad should speak to you more about this?” I asked. “He tells me that our grandmother died from esophageal cancer…No one in my mother’s family has ever had cancer, they are the only people I know.

We were now cut off by her call waiting. She had a customer to drive someplace. Kim moonlighted on welfare as a livery cab driver. When she came back she said, “I am so tired”

Drawing "Linda" by Dox Thrash

Drawing "Linda" by Dox Thrash

“You should rest more.” I stressed. ” Chemotherapy is not an easy thing to endure.”

Kim seemed to agree by humming. “Did I tell you I do not look like I have cancer and all of the nurses and patients at the hospital love me?”

“Yes, you did,” I replied. “You are very brave and it is nice that you are an inspiration to so many who are stricken as you are.”

Kim seemed to have hinted at something which led me to believe that she wanted me to come to treatment with her.

“People like you know how to talk to the doctors?”

“No, not really. I just ask lots of questions and do research on  my own. You are the best doctor you could ever have.

“A woman at the hospital asked me a lot of questions about my welfare medical coverage and gave me $25. She asked me if I thought the government would not tell me that I was sick on purpose and I said ‘Yeah’.”

I am afraid Kim lost me here. Was she telling me that there was a person on the hospital premises conducting a random focus group on health care reform? “Kim, what else did she ask you?”

“She didn’t believe me about the government. My doctors did not tell me anything about the cancer. They lied to me so I told her yes the government would let me die. I don’t trust them.”

It seems Kim did not put up any fences with the surveyor. “It is bad they could have helped me didn’t.”

To those familiar with life as a welfare recipient, Kim’s story is not uncommon and neither is her anger.  In both fathers the biological one being he whose roaming nature kept him away from us and our surrogate father, the U.S. government, we shared an undeniable commonality.

In contrast, everything else was dramatically different.

I had left behind the life she was currently living.

How could two sisters have chosen separate paths after being on the same road during out formative years? Having to good wisdom to see that welfare was equivalent to the government running my life, I said “no”. Kim however, was still stuck and there was nothing I could do about it.

It took only 30 seconds for me to offer to make dinner for her again. What else could I give her? I could not cure her. I could not spontaneously have a few droplets of water added to me and become the sister she never had. The only promise lied in my readiness to play hostess and build a relationship from there.  I imagined what the dinner would be like. Would it be awkward? Would my shoulder to cry upon be just as pathetic as it was now? Kim told me she has cancer and the government is letting her die and the only sympathy I could muster translated into an offer to sear her a salmon fillet and fix rosemary potatoes.

“Look,” Kim said. Her voice was sad and resigned.”I will call you to let you know if I can come for dinner.”

“Okay,” I answered. “I pray for you everyday.”  I was telling the truth. Sure maybe I was an unintelligent stranger but I was telling the truth. Nothing was more unlike Afrocity, than the way I was behaving on the phone. I was powerless and Kim knew it. I know because today is Sunday and she never called me for that dinner.

Autographed Letter Signed,

AFOCITY





 

Nightmares Of My Father: Has Barack Obama Really Helped African Americans? April 9, 2009

"Power Grab" courtesy of <i>American Thinker</i> image by Big Fur Hat of iOwnTheWorld.com

(sigh)

Last Sunday I had my dad over for dinner. My father and I have only known each other for 5 years. Our relationship is a work in progress with many false starts. My mother who passed away 2 years ago was his maid and she had an affair with him and became pregnant with yours truly. At first she considered an abortion (they were not legal at the time). The morning of the abortion, she said she looked at herself in the mirror and asked God to promise her it would be a girl (she had a son already) and that she would grow to be as successful as her father’s family. My father’s family owned a chain of barbecue joints and at the time they were successful in the sense that they were not on government assistance like many of the African American’s in my mom’s circle of friends.

The rest is history or herstory ;-).

(Looks at chest) I am a woman and I am successful as far as being an educated woman and self sufficient. On Sunday after dinner, I helped my father look for a way to get medical assistance. He has no health insurance. Has been in jail for a felony including murder. He is now 62 and must worry about his health. So yes mom, I guess you can say I grew to be as successful as my father’s family. She never would have foreseen my sitting with him navigating the Social Security.gov pages with him, 39 years after my birth.

My dad voted for Obama. I did not. Sunday, I felt the need to reveal that to him. There have been too many lies between us already. I did not want him to think I was a liberal because I feel as his daughter, he should accept me unconditionally.

We were eating pizza and he was going on about how Obama is being set up by “da man” and handed a bad economy because he is a black president and people are “out to get him”. Through his rant I was silent.

Finally I put my fork down and said “Dad I did not vote for Obama. I am a Republican- a conservative. I did not feel that he was the best person for the job. I hope you are not disappointed in me but over the last two years or so I have changed my political leanings towards the right.”

Dad was quiet for a bit but said “Afrocity Look. I cannot vote first of all (due to convictions) but if I could have Obama would have been the only one. It is a step in the right direction for our people.”

I said, “But is he really ‘our people’ ? I would rather have seen an African American that I believed in and had the proper experience and leadership skills. Not this way. Not race baiting and silent affirmative action.”

Dad said “We have to start somewhere.

I said “Okay. So how exactly has your life changed as a Black man since the election?”

He mentioned the stimulus and how it will give more aid (welfare IMHO) to black communities. I told him that I would like to see Blacks excel on their own merits and stop being victims. He said “Who Afrocity? Like me?”

We stopped the conversation as a buzzer went off because I had a pie in the oven.

The next day I was on the Green Line subway and almost every person of color had an Obama skull cap on. The women had Obama tote bags. One had three disheveled kids with her. She had to be 22 at the most. I did not see hope in her eyes only frustration as she dealt with her small brood.

Has Obama helped her? Will his election help all of those African American kids in the Chicago neighborhoods like the southside’s Englewood community where Jennifer Hudson’s family was murdered? Incidentally Jennifer said this week she no longer considers herself a Chicagoan. I can’t say that I blame her.

My mother raised me on welfare and foodstamps. When those ran out we went to local food pantries to receive boxes of expired canned goods and powdered milk.  I cannot change that. What I could change was my future. I did that by seeing my potential and completing my education. No drugs, I practiced abstinence, hard work. I saw welfare as a deterrent to the success of the African American community and watched for decades as it made my mother slip deeper into complacency. Now to watch my father wonder and hope that he will get medical care and more public assistance because Barack Obama is POTUS disturbs me.

Have we gone forward as African Americans or back?

My mother and I in 1984. Yes we were on welfare even then.

My mother and I in 1984. Yes we were on welfare even then.

 

 
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