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Growing up in inner-city Atlanta, in the public housing projects of Dixie Hills, a lesson that I learned early in life is that there would be material things that I would desire to have but could not have.
That was my reality and I accepted it.
My family never owned a car. If there was somewhere I needed to go, I either walked, took the bus or called a cab (we didn’t call them “taxis”.) Every place I ever lived had an apartment number affixed to the address. We never rented or owned a house. I never had a bedroom or bathroom to myself. Fridays were special occasions for my siblings and me, as we looked forward expectantly to having hot dogs and pork & beans for dinner. Other days, it wasn’t out of the norm for our meals to consist of the canned government-supplied leftovers my mom would bring home from her job as a cafeteria cook at a local public high school.
By today’s standards, my childhood would be described by many in such terms as “poor”, “disadvantaged”, “at-risk” and “underprivileged”.
With such descriptions I would beg to differ.
I wasn’t poor. I had a name. I didn’t need some lugubrious social suffix (such as the aforementioned terms) added to it.
As a child, I was acutely aware of what were my parent’s, and God’s, expectations of me. My mother wore the “spiritual pants” in the family and made certain that I was in church every Sunday. Even today, I still love to hear my mother sing in church. Trust me. She can “sang”, y’all (as they say in the “black church”). My father, who was only 64 when he passed away in 2002, was the hardest working man I’ve ever known. He taught me what is a proper work ethic. And it is because of him that I have a very low tolerance for laziness.
My first job was working summers at the same warehouse where my father was employed, sweeping floors and “breaking down” and stacking pallets of empty cardboard boxes for hours a day. Every morning at 5:00 on-the-dot, my father would wake me up and we would walk up the block to catch the #3 bus into downtown, and then transfer to the #73 bus in order to get to work by 7:00. To be honest, I loathed that job, but I loved my father. And because I didn’t want to let him down, I worked as hard as I could to make sure that when we left that warehouse each day, those floors were the cleanest and those pallets the most neatly stacked of any warehouse anywhere.
I had a name, you see, and that meant that I inherently possessed an ethos, a character, a standard by which I was expected to live. Far be it from me to leverage my so-called “impoverished” upbringing as justification for not persevering and doing not only what was ethical, but what was right.
Fast-forward to today, and there exists an attitude of entitlement and dependency which has so permeated American society as to believe anything that is desired is deserved.
This is especially true, though not exclusively, within the black community, where the degree of apathy toward the concept of individual responsibility is reflected in an ever-increasing number of individuals and families on welfare. Though encompassing only 12.9 percent of the population of the United States, 37.2 percent of blacks currently receive some form of government assistance (versus 38.8 percent of whites.) And, though I am fully aware that there are contributing factors which constitute that number on the whole, suffice it to say that statistic is extremely high, proportionally speaking, and cannot possibly be attributable simply to instances of genuine need.
Look, let’s keep it real, alright? Some people just refuse to work. Instead, these mendicants would rather ride the coattails of productive, successful, tax-paying citizens, while simultaneously disparaging those same individuals for achieving the type of success that affords them the opportunity to suckle like pigs to begin with. Talk about hypocrisy! It is this same contorted mentality that originally gave rise to the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, which is based entirely on the apriorism of “whatever I desire, I deserve.”
Think about it.
OWS is but one example of a potentially catastrophic culture shift where the traditional morés of work, perseverance, patience and discipline, are no longer virtues to be encouraged and inspirited among us, but discouraged, if not repressed altogether (as ridiculous as it sounds.) No longer is anything to be earned through the application of real labor, because to actually put forth effort is to risk failure. (And, God forbid that someone fail and have their self-esteem irreparably damaged.)
The great deception of progressivism is that it gets you to focus on what you don’t have and on how miserable your life is because of it; and that the only reason your life isn’t of a better quality is because someone else has intentionally deprived you of it. This is typical”class warfare” on the part of the Left. As a political philosophy, black voters are particularly susceptible to this idea given their overwhelmingly one-sided allegiance to the Democrat Party. President Obama knows this and is quite adroit at exploiting it to the advantage of himself and his party.
Instead of encouraging and uplifting all Americans in a spirit of independence, perseverance, determination, socialists like Obama will single out blacks and other minorities in a deliberate and contrived effort to convince them to buy into the philosophical mirage that their existence is merely a desperate struggle for survival; a plight brought about through no fault of their own, but whose only hope for redemption is through government intervention, as opposed to employing their own God-given talents and aptitude. This is exactly the kind of confrontational, “us-versus-them” hyperbole that has kept blacks loyal to the Democrat Party for decades and with absolutely no quantifiable benefits to show for it.
Times are changing, however. After being sucked (or should I say suckered) into an emotions-driven frenzy in 2008, blacks are awakening to the realization that slogans like “Hope” and “Change” don’t pay the mortgage or put gas in the car at $4.00 a gallon. Slowly but surely, many black liberals are beginning to understand the fallacy of thinking you can get something for nothing (e.g. “free” health care), and that it is, in fact, an expensive proposition to be placed in the position of being utterly dependent on someone else, namely the government, to meet your every need.
Now, I don’t know about you; but where I’m from, they call that socialism.
Contrary to popular belief, existence does not portend certainty – of anything. To believe otherwise is to harbor a myth, an illusion, a phantasm, because certainty, by definition, is ultimately beyond our finite capacity to control or dictate. To have an opportunity does not mean that opportunity should manifest itself in the same way for everyone (nor should it in a sinful world such as the one in which we live.) “Yes We Can” is nothing more than an empty, regurgitated catch-phrase used previously by Marxists like Ché Guevara and Hugo Chavez.
Neither President Obama nor his vain slogans have the power to improve your economic station for the better. Only you, under God’s direction, can do that. He is the only certainty you have.
It is by God’s sovereign design, not by “random chance” or a “cosmic mistake”, that each of us was born when we were, to whom we were and into the circumstance or situation we were. To live and grow up Dixie Hills was my predestined, predetermined lot in life. I had nothing to do with it and I have absolutely no right to complain that it wasn’t a more ideal situation for me or my family. To do so would be an affront to God. My childhood was neither good nor bad, privileged nor underprivileged. It was simply what it was, which left only the question of how was I going to deal with it.
The great educator and author, Booker T. Washington, once said, “No race can prosper until it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.”
Your lot in life might very well be that of “tilling a field” as opposed to “writing a poem”. If so, you shouldn’t see it as a “plight” requiring the government to come to the rescue like some socialist superhero. It’s simply where you are at a particular moment in time. My “field” was once a dilapidated housing project and a warehouse sweeping floors and stacking cardboard boxes. In hindsight, I now know that it was simply a Divine appointment, designed and orchestrated by God, to springboard me on my journey toward physical, intellectual and spiritual maturity.
Poverty is a mindset, not a predicament.
You have a name.
Whether or not you become a statistic is entirely up to you.