Saturday, November 18, 2006

About me

It’s all about me. While I can rejoice with others or cry with others, I’m usually end up thinking about how this will affect me, why I’m not like that, why I am like that or why I’m not as good as the other person. So, no matter how much I empathize with you, it’s all about me.

I begin too many sentences with I because what I think and how I feel is really the topic of this blog. Events, incidents and other people are merely carriers for talking about me. I like to see my name in lights (not that it has ever happened) or in the stars on a walkway. I don’t understand why my hometown has not recognized the wonderful things I’ve done in my life. (Never mind that they are more concerned with getting enough to eat and money to pay the electric bill since that is one of the poorest areas of Mississippi). They should properly recognize how far I have come and what a credit I am to that community. Of course, I wouldn’t go back there unless I wanted something there, and I can’t think of anything they have that I want. I sold the farm, what little bit of it I inherited. And, I can’t imagine much worse than having to live there again.

The place is like – well, I can’t think of a good comparison. But, the white kids go to private school, play sports with other white private schools, and many go on to college. The other kids (African-American, Hispanic, Asian) go to public school and many never graduate. Some never make it to high school since compulsory attendance ends at age 16. Can you imagine being in sixth grade at age 16? It happens there.

And, living conditions. In most places Section 8 Housing pays partial or entire rent for low income families so they have decent places to live. Usually a family is put on a waiting list and may have to wait a few months or maybe even a year before there is enough money to fund their housing. In Mississippi, people can wait a lifetime. There are so many people with no income whatsoever that those who have any income will never be able to get Section 8 Housing.

Not only is lack of funding a problem, finding adequate housing is an even bigger problem. My sister-in-law lived in a house where the bathtub was gradually falling through the floor. The landlord wouldn’t fix it – too much trouble, too much money. The electric wiring had caught on fire at least once, and she heated with her oven and kerosene heaters. She had a tiny disability income and SSI for her retarded daughter; so she gave up on getting Section 8 Housing or even getting Food Stamps.

So little money; so much need. So few jobs; so many untrained people. Young people with any education leave. Young people without education sell drugs and become prostitutes. Wealthier people from the large city to the north come down to hear the blues, to snort cocaine, and to have sex with the young women (and men) who stand on the street corners.

Smart farmers allot part of their acreage to growing marijuana, one of the largest cash crops in Mississippi. Of course, they must conceal this crop in the midst of another ordinary field. I suspect that elected officials and law enforcement officers still get paid to look the other way.

Recently I found among my family papers a note written on the back of a campaign card, “Mike, give this man a pint. He voted for me.” My granddaddy Mike was a bootlegger, and, although I understand he made some fine brandy and some good whiskey, I’m sure that “this man” got the lesser quality stuff. I can remember handing out campaign cards around town, but I certainly didn’t realize that I got to do that because my granddaddy was a bootlegger depended on by most of the candidates. Payola?

So, see, it’s all about me. It’s not about those hungry, homeless souls in Mississippi. It’s not about the lack of industry and jobs. It’s not about the failure of the United States to compete in the world market with agricultural products. It’s not about drug abuse, school dropouts and prostitution. It’s about me. I escaped.

No comments: