The Silent Depression

United for a Fair Economy has published State of the Dream 2009: The Silent Depression. There is no creativity in direct quotes but since my time is very limited today, this is the background they give in describing this report:

“While the general population has been in recession for one year, people of color have been in recession for five years. By definition, a long-term recession is a depression.

We detail additional evidence that shows the current racial economic inequity, including poverty rates, wealth and assets and economic mobility. While racial barriers did not prevent an African-American from becoming President, they continue to impede many people of color from achieving the same economic success as their white counterparts.”

Check it out at: http://www.faireconomy.org/news/state_of_the_dream_2009_the_silent_depression

Overall, 24% of Blacks and 21% of Latinos are in poverty, versus 8% of whites. I hope that we do not choose to remain blind to issues of race simply because we have elected President Obama. Painful issues are still there, obviously.

The Inquisitive Skink

Tough week…and thank heavens for Maya Angelou

Indiana’s unemployment figures for January, released Friday, show Monroe County as having the second lowest jobless rate in the state. This comes as no surprise to those of us who work in social services. Many people are out there feeling like they are scraping their faces on the sidewalk pavement. I am hopeful that perhaps this shakedown in our economy will be what we need to reset our table correctly. One can only hope.

It has been a tough week at work. Can’t say much, other than that it can be tough working in the field of domestic violence. I don’t know why I’m sitting here writing when my brain is fried and I started work at 5am this morning. Strange way to relax, huh? But before I sign off here are a few interesting tidbits to ponder. They do relate to my opening sentence, albeit from an odd angle.

Tidbit 1: While millions of families are losing their homes, jobs and health care, the military budget next year will top one trillion dollars — that’s $1,000,000,000,000. I just divided that by 60,000 to get 16,666,666 jobs at $60,000 per year.

Tidbit 2: Foreclosures are now affecting almost 1 in every 8 American homeowners.

Tidbit 3: Public pensions in the US had total liabilities of $2.9 trillion as of Dec. 16, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Their total assets are about 30 percent less than that, at $2 trillion.

Tidbit 4: This one made me sick to my stomach: The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the 41 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (567 million people) is less than the wealth of the world’s 7 richest people combined.

http://www.globalissues.org/issue/2/causes-of-poverty

With stock market losses this year, public pensions in the US are now underfunded by more than $1 trillion.
This is the next bailout crisis waiting to happen.

The economy is in a free fall with no obvious brakes in place.

Beauty in the form of Maya Angelou helps to ease my heart.  My dearest friend Patricia and I went to her reading presented as part of IU’s annual arts week.   The woman is so damn beautiful on a level not seen in many….her mind is like a jewel.  This makes what she has survived a reminder of the strength of the human spirit.  She spoke about being raped as a child, and how the police officers came to her home to tell her that her rapist, released after only one night in prison, had been found apparently kicked to death. She told how she was struck mute…..afraid that her voice could bring death.

I am ever so grateful that she found her voice.

Inaugural Poem

Maya Angelou
20 January 1993

A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon.

The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.

But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.

I will give you no more hiding place down here.

You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.

Your mouths spilling words
Armed for slaughter.

The Rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.

Across the wall of the world,
A River sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.

Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.

Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.

Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more. Come,

Clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the stone were one.

Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet knew you still
Knew nothing.

The River sings and sings on.

There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing River and the wise Rock.

So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the Tree.

Today, the first and last of every Tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the River.

Plant yourself beside me, here beside the River.

Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveller, has been paid for.

You, who gave me my first name, you
Pawnee, Apache and Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
Forced on bloody feet, left me to the employment of
Other seekers–desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.

You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot …
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought
Sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.

Here, root yourselves beside me.

I am the Tree planted by the River,
Which will not be moved.

I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
I am yours–your Passages have been paid.

Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.

History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.

Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.

Give birth again
To the dream.

Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.

Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.

Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.

The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.

No less to Midas than the mendicant.

No less to you now than the mastodon then.

Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.



The Inquisitive Skink