The Beginning of The Second Term Around

by Tonya Ellis

“In the new century, I think we will all be insane...” That’s a quote from one of my favorite plays- Angels in America. The translation of that reality to the here and now becomes- In the new millennium we will all be mad. Nothing could be more on point than the reality of this statement thus far at this point in time- January 2013. America stands at the eve of it's second term with the first President of African descent (visibly in any case) and I am presently back on my ass down in my home state of Texas. Which as I write this- Obama's 2nd inauguration is taking place & Texas is presently threatening to succeed from the rest of the country? Seems to be some sort of a send up to old southern traditions & history I suspect? And to quote a very brilliant internet random posting from a rather cute looking white guy on this subject (Yes- occasionally you can find genius on random subjects on the internet in addition to the usual random insanity & depravity) But Andy Politics says with his tag name I’m sure being a clever spin on Indie Politics- quote: “Well Good Luck with that & don't let the doorknob hit you (meaning with the succession)! The state of Texas has about 25 million people. Half of which are poor? So what choice do they have but to be dependent on the main Government for many aspects of daily life? Let alone with the economy being presently in such a weak state.”

Rebels & rebelling often being the root of many things American let alone Southern. The term Rebel Yell being Southern in origin exemplifies that. I think to myself- Texas is the home of the cowboy & The Cowboys. Texas was a territory for a very long time before becoming a state, which is one of the reasons that the image of the outlaw came to be associated with this region I believe. The outlaw as a legend is almost a tradition down here. Bonnie & Clyde are both from Texas. The south gave birth to the blues as we know it. An obvious form of African rebellious expression of oppression. Think along the lines of blues singer Howling Wolf. The history of the south generally being what it is, I can’t think of a name that entails a more perfect primal personification of the need to express one’s self and above that even- the need to be free. Granted, at this present moment I certainly don't feel like much of an outlaw or rebel being 42 years old and back down south on my cousin’s couch for the last 4 months. Probably that natural American sense of basic entitlement & idealism hitting reality very hard like a rock.

The saying goes you can't go home again but that's bullshit because sometimes you have to go home again. That's if you’re even lucky enough to have a home to go to. Whatever your ambitions in the world when you're young is one thing? But as you get older the nature and the reality of codependency plays itself out amongst family members, what ever your personal version of family is. Primarily often out of necessity. As I had to give up my apartment in NYC this year just passed because of my inability to find employment that would allow me to sustain my $1000 dollars of monthly rent in Manhattan. Which $1000 dollars in rent is not bad for Manhattan even with the fact that the studio was the size of a shoebox. One can't beat the Chelsea location. Profiling & being a Profiler like I am- A good deal on rent in an expensive neighborhood doesn't change the fact that like most average working people I live on a budget and I like things which are often beyond my somewhat limited means.

Never the less- Those budget days are pretty much over. As even the minimal of money where jobs are concerned has become hard to come by everywhere. My cousin I'm staying with here in Texas works part time for a Community College in Fort Worth. She is close to completing credits for her degree and is one of several part time employees (one of which has a Masters degree) who only make $10 dollars hourly and basically wait around for opportunities to apply for any full time positions that may become open after one of the other staff members move on- whether that be physically to another job or heavenly- to another place. As some of the senior staff are in their 70's. So the wait can be long to say the least... It's one of the reasons I left Texas in my 20's- Every thing seems to pay less on average down south not to mention it takes twice as long to travel everywhere in Texas as it is not as commuter friendly generally as the tristate area is. But then the bad economy has hit the whole country hard. In the last few years NYC has morphed itself into a place of part time work that often pays less than $10 dollars an hour & false “commission only” jobs. Where people are asking for degrees and unnecessary certifications for administrative/office work (called secretarial work in it's traditional less pretentious title). I have many friends with degrees who have been laid off in the past 3 years.

My friend in NYC who spent 2 yrs unemployed before finding a fulltime job paying much less than she previously made tells me jokingly yet seriously- “Do you know- I saw an ad on Craigslist NY where they were asking dishwashers for resumes?” I respond- “Yes, I can believe it.” Than she mentions that she noticed that some of these companies are actually asking for photo submissions along with resumes? It doesn't surprise me I say. And it concerns us both seeing as we are both 40ish and not kids anymore and it would seem that this would be something that is illegal for companies to request? Let alone the implications where racism, ageism, and sexism is concerned? But than welcome to the backlash of “isms” in America. Seems that with the election of Obama many companies have reverted to old biased traditions when it comes to hiring practices. And with her and I being of African- “other” descent it's almost a given that everything has become about class/cast warfare as you can see just by watching what’s going on up on Capital Hill. Which is one of the most boring things that you could ever watch. That being- CSPAN live from Capital Hill. A lot of footage of a bunch of politicians who are over paid, with good medical benefits & lunch tabs that are picked up by taxpaying citizens while they sit & wrap the policies that represent millions of working people in rhetoric and endless red tape.

Frankly, I hate politics personally & always have. But I have had to learn to be more interactive as any so called mature citizen has to eventually. Being a mature citizen also involves accepting the power of the corporate class. The corporate class private sector has the power to destroy 9 million jobs in 3 ½ years and have only so far managed to replace approximately 1 million. So you have no choice but to tune in if your one of the citizens that these issues have been affecting. If you are a citizen who has not been affected by these realities then you are very fortunate indeed. The confusion level that the 24 hour media news streams such as CSPAN & CNN has created in this country is unreal. As many Americans don't realize that “other” although in the past and to some extent presently was related to being one of the minority groups in America. With the minority becoming the majority. Present translation of “other” just means in reality your a member of the working class- which is most average Americans. The country is about 50% ethnic now. With the money and power base we have still being reflective of being ruling class white/republican to some extent. Obviously this is because of the history of race as a caste system in America.

You can see these issues grinding themselves out with the number of unemployed/underemployed and homeless on the streets. Since this recession/depression started. There are over 20,000 families in the homeless shelters in NYC- the same as The Great Depression. With that being the reality I can only assume that media being what it is today is very reluctant to call this the Depression that is in actuality. It makes me glad I don't have any children. As I sit on my cousins couch watching the inauguration with my little cousin & watch the politics grind themselves out with the coming second term of the nation's first Black President, I wonder how a so called global economy is going to effect my 5 yr old cousin in the future? When $6000 annually allows you to live well in Asia and being what I made last year- didn't allow me to keep a roof over my head?

That miniscule amount wouldn't even allow me to sustain myself down here in Fort Worth, Texas, where the NYC-style Loft apartments are presently all the rage? I wonder who the hell can afford them off of what a lot of these jobs are paying here? Then I start to wonder if in the future my little cousin will get better technical help when she gets Dell computers on the phone over in India? You know as in better technical help than I do today? In the present so called global economy? I usually just end up hanging up & calling back in an effort to get someone here in the states on the line instead. Sorry- but too much gets lost in translation....

The Beginning of The Second Term Around by Tonya Ellis

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