Sunday, January 25, 2009

Has change really come to America?

I rode with my mother through Westchester County today - the condos and homes all beautifully kept as we wove through the streets towards the Bronx where my cousin lives in a beautiful home with his wife and two daughters who attend private school in New York City.

When I first came to New York over a year ago, I was amazed at the countenance of the buildings that are owned by the New York Housing Authority. My feeling is that the buildings should be power washed to remove grime regularly. Flowers should be planted in boxes outside of windows and EVERY project or subsidized housing complex should be home to at least one community garden and park.

We are at a historic time in America. We have the first African American President - he is half black and half white, but he looks black, so we content ourselves (not me personally, as my children are also mulatto and I would not deign to have them deny their Caucasian parentage on their father's side).......another story for another entry.

President Obama and his wife embody the American Dream for all of us - black, white, Jew, Christian, Muslim, Native American and all shades and hues of God's people and religions inbetween. They both worked hard to pursue Ivy League educations and only recently paid off their student loans.

Obama is the product of a single mother - the Ann Coulters of the world would have us all believe that single mothers are the bane of the world and that our children are responsible for all societal ills - please note that in her new book, she does not include divorcees such as myself and Obama's mother as single mothers. She is, instead focusing on those mothers who live in public housing, bearing numerous children with numerous men as fathers, subsisting on government subsidies.

It is time for more comprehensive welfare reform - if one has never paid into the system and becomes pregnant at age 17, then one cannot receive public housing or welfare payments - one can have the medicaid that will entitle one to receive appropriate and adequate healthcare and one can live doubled up with a family member while availing themselves of WIA (workforce investment act) funds and other government subsidies designed to help get women off welfare and into the workforce - it worked in Michigan while I was working for Governor Engler's welfare-to-work program - it is one of the most successful programs in the country. One can have access to WIC - the Women and Infant Children Program that provides fresh fruit, legumes, protein and milk, fomula and cereal to mothers and children under age 5. One can have access to a community garden, instead of food stamps, so that one can connect with nature and have a notion of where one's food comes from, instead of lining up at a grocey store with food stamps, purchasing (not in all cases, but in many that I have seen over the years) unhealthy foods to feed ones family.

It is a beautiful thing to see a black and brown couple as the first family - Sasha and Malia are the quintessential fashion plates, with charm, great manners and their parents' good looks. What an amazing role model we have for all Americans.

Unfortunately, if a person wants to be a 5th generation welfare mother or father, that is what that person will aspire to, no matter who is in the White House - Bill Cosby, Sojourner Truth, Fredrick Douglass, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Michael Jordan, Venus and Serena Williams, Tiger Woods - all of these individuals have blazed a trail for African Americans to follow.

We did not need to see one of "us" in the White House in order to realize that living in the projects is not an acceptable permanent lifestyle.

I ask the question again - has change really come to America?

Are we willing to make the changes from within in order to see this happen?

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