Baltimore Blues

I am hurt over the destruction that is occurring in Baltimore. We have to be an advocate for change and nothing comes from rioting. I understand the injustices that occur in our community. I am a black woman raising a black son, but to sit here and destroy your community serves no purpose. I will not co-sign with someone who says it’s anger manifested and it serves a purpose. It does not. Because those same folks are sitting at home typing on their computers unaffected. They are not going to bring their happy butts down to Baltimore to clean up what you messed up. Stop fooling yourself.

I grew up poor. I’m not rich. Just because I don’t live in Baltimore doesn’t mean that I can’t empathize with your struggle, but burning down your community is not the answer. Haven’t we learned from the Detroit Riots, Rodney King Riots, Newark Riots and Watts Riots? What happens? The same issues you are supposedly fighting against still continue only you’ve brought down your property value and oops, no one vacations in Detroit. Money is lost. Everything in America is about economics. Will the 16 CVS stores that suffered reopen in the affected neighborhoods? Maybe or maybe not. What if they make a decision not to reopen? How will residents get their prescriptions? Not just the young people, but the elderly who walk to their local CVS? To assume people have insurance to rebuild, buy another car or fix their property damages in an already dilapidated area is to assume from the comfort of your home that they may not truly be poor. Because a lot of poor people are in essence “riding dirty” and don’t have insurance.

baltimore-riots-10People know better which is why I support the mother that whooped her son’s butt. I’m a mother. I didn’t raise you like this. Read a book and learn from our history. Are you a rioter or are you a social agent for change?

Note: To see the video, please click on the title of the post if you are viewing it in your email.

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Yep, I am officially depressed

So, this is what happened. Last year in November I bought a 2012 Nissan Maxima. I was excited. My first grown up purchase. Well, two months later I was living in the hotel (multiple pipe bursts in my kitchen with flooding) and I pulled my beautiful baby out the hotel garage and scraped the driver’s side door on the yellow concrete posts. Ugh. The damage to my car was $2,900. I had to get it fixed. I just got the car. So, I paid the $500 deductible and got “Blue Magic” fixed.

I resounded to pay attention and not get distracted by life because I couldn’t afford another expensive lesson. Well, in June of this year, I went down the wrong way of a roundabout. I realized it and began to back-up when I was hit by another driver who couldn’t see me. Damage to both cars, but no injuries and I thankfully didn’t get a ticket. God was watching after me on that one because I was praying that the officer’s would have mercy and make it affordable. I sat there in shock and realized I can’t afford to keep paying these dang deductibles. I hadn’t had the car a year. What was happening?

My mom didn’t make me feel better. Her response, “Kee, you need to be careful and pay attention.” Like a petulant child, I yelled “I know mom and you ‘re not helping. I’m already depressed. I laid in bed crying.” I said, “I didn’t tell you that when you got into your two accidents within a month of each other.” She said, “No, but I told myself.” She reminded me to count my blessings that I didn’t get a ticket.

As I’ve been sharing I’m exceptionally happy. I said it out loud. I didn’t just write it, but I woke up and thanked God for his continued blessings over my life. But, I always knew that something would happen because I was happy. I didn’t know what form the happiness thief would take, but I knew it was coming. Would I be prepared? Would I crumble? Would it be that bad that it would destroy me? All the questions that I kept pushing out my mind. I wasn’t going to “think it” into existence.

I just went with the flow and enjoyed the moment. Then it happened. I was checking my emails on my Ipad this morning before work and got the renewal information from my car insurance company. My insurance was increasing by 117%. I sat there dumbfounded with tears in my eyes. All these thoughts ran through my mind:

  • I can’t afford this.
  • That is more than my car note.
  • How will I be able to live?
  • OMG, I want to die
  • I would be better off selling my car and paying off the balance and buying a vehicle outright

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I was freaking out. It was way too early to start calling folks and asking them to pray, encourage and remind me that I will be okay. I was already planning on how I would pack up my spot and move back home with my mom with a defeated attitude. I was lost. I was officially one step up from being in a crack den or on the streets or living in Blue Magic. Yes, Blue Magic is roomy and all, but I couldn’t bring my baby to living in our car while trying to get bootleg wi-fi so he can watch Disney Jr. and Netflix on his Ipad. (I told you I was having a mental breakdown).

I called my best friend who said, “Wow! Call around. Stop freaking out! You have 6 weeks to find another insurance company. Do your research.” I sniffled, “Okay, thank you. I will do it.” I hopped in the shower and got dressed and headed into work. I prayed to God that Blue Magic and I will not have to live in a seedy part of town dodging bullets. I went about my normal routine and arrived at work 15 minutes early. I started trying to get insurance quotes to see if I can get a cheaper rate.

I sent a text to my other best friend to let him know and seek his counsel. He replied, “It’ll be okay. You’ll find something. It was your two accidents in one year and the fact that you were at fault for both and your car is considered a sports car because of the horse power. It’s going to be expensive, but you will have to budget and make some adjustments.” I sat there listening to him with tears streaming down my face, “This is one of the worst days of my life. Definitely the worst day in the last 15 months. I can’t breathe.” “Stop overreacting please. I will help you” he replied.

As I sat at work frustrated I decided to go see my good friend to get her advice and perspective. I had already received quotes that were more than $300 over what my current insurance company was going to charge me. I was spiraling downhill fast. She said, “Don’t let this get you down. I am claiming it. You will be saved from this situation. We are not going to give the happiness thief satisfaction in seeing you defeated.” I just put my head down on the table and sighed.

I went into my office after lunch still consumed with this travesty of injustice on my mind and in my spirit. I checked my emails and read my devotional from Bible Gateway called “His Princess Today”. I got too busy to read it yesterday so I opened it up and this is what it said:

Come to Me

I saw you before you were born. Even then you were on My mind, My daughter. I knew you were coming, and I did everything possible to express My love to you and extend My invitation to you. Now that you are Mine, I want you to continue to come to Me. Come to Me when you feel strong and when you feel weary. Come to Me when you are rejoicing and when your spirit is crushed. I ask you to come not only to give you rest, but also because there is so much more I want to teach you. There is more of Me I want to reveal to you. You see, I did not create you for this fallen world. I created you for Paradise, but the curse of sin tore us apart. I’ve conquered sin and death for you through the death of My son, so come to Me… and live.

Love,
Your King who is waiting

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and
carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you,
because I am humble and gentle,
and you will find rest for your souls.”
Matthew 11:28–29

I realized that I went to everyone with my problem (that I could think of without disturbing) but the one who could truly put peace in my heart and remind me that He will carry my burden. My burden is heavy. I told you yesterday I grew up poor and I was determined not to go back to the poor house and God was reminding me that His yoke is easy and I should take that. Wow! I sat there with tears in my eyes apologizing for my selfishness and realizing that HE NEVER FAILS!

Yep, I am officially depressed, but you know what? I will get through this because it is a temporary setback. Sometimes we all need a reminder to stop going to everyone first. Go to Him first. My grandma used to say, “Trouble don’t last always” but I know that my God is a burden bearer and he can carry this burden too.

Be blessed my loves!

The Stigma of Being Poor

We were poor growing up. There I said it. I qualified for reduced lunch because I was being raised by a single parent who was working three jobs to make ends meet. No child support from my dad. Even then it was only reduced lunch at 20 cents. Was I embarrassed? Sure, but the need to eat won out over the embarrassment. You would think after the “No Kid Hungry” Campaign that things have changed in this country, but no it has not. It broke my heart to read this article the other day on The Huffington Post called “That is the Poor Kids’ Line”.

We are a country of haves and havenots and yet we keep applying the stigma of being poor to everyone. Why?  I live in a predominately African American county and the number of children who qualify for free or reduced lunch is 57%. More than half our county children. There are a number of things that can contribute to this number: unemployment, low paying income, number of household residents, etc but does it make it okay to look down at folks? No.

My son doesn’t qualify for free or reduced lunch because his parents make over the threshold to qualify. Do you know how much you have to make? For a family of two you would have to make less than $30,000 a year before taxes. The exact amount is $29, 101 a year for reduced lunch. Guess how much you would have to make in order to qualify for free lunch? A family of two would have to make $11,670 a year. How can you survive on that amount? Is it feasible? Not in this area. The average 2 bedroom apartment in a low income neighborhood is $1,100 a month. That doesn’t include utilities. They charge everything from gas, electric and water nowadays.

Do you have a car to get you back and forth to work and the kids to school? Yep, well deduct your car note and car insurance. No car, public transportation is really expensive in this area. It’s based on distance. What about food? Food prices and gas prices fluctuate, so that can hurt you. What about health insurance? It’s a lot. Here’s a chart to help you get a big view picture.

Expense Monthly Amount Yearly Amount
Rent  $                   1,100.00  $                     13,200.00
Electric  $                      120.00  $                        1,440.00
Gas  $                         20.00  $                           240.00
Water  $                         25.00  $                           300.00
Car Insurance  $                      135.00  $                        1,620.00
Car Note  $                      258.00  $                        3,096.00
Before/After Care  $                      312.00  $                        3,744.00
Food  $                      200.00  $                        2,400.00
Health Insurance  $                      200.00  $                        2,400.00
 $                   2,370.00  $                     28,440.00
Yearly Calculations
Annual Salary  $                29,101.00
25% Federal Tax  $                21,825.75
Maryland Tax  $                   1,743.04 $50+4%over the excess of $2,000
Take Home Before Expenses  $                20,082.71
You need  $                28,440.00
You make  $                20,082.71

You see how you are $8,000 short a year? I didn’t include your PG County taxes or the reduced lunch at .30 a day for breakfast and .40 a day for lunch. There are 180 school days for the children so that is an additional $126.00 a school year to feed your child. Relatively cheaper than packing their lunch and feeding them breakfast at home. You’re already short over $8,000 so what about food and childcare during the summer months?

No wonder so many of our children go hungry in this country. We are making it impossible for parents to be able to work, live and provide the basics for their children. You see why my mom worked three jobs to even be able to give us lunch money? When there is more money that month what do you do? Look down on those that can’t afford it?

It’s hard out here and I pray that people will learn to be more compassionate. I don’t qualify for free and reduced lunch and it is expensive as a working parent. If I didn’t cook him a full breakfast each morning and pack his lunch it would cost me $738.00 a school year. Breakfast is $1.50 a day and lunch is $2.60. You see the expense? Thankfully I only have one child. Imagine having more than one.

That is why I’m a champion of the Maryland Meals for Achievement (MMFA) program. This program provides breakfast in every classroom each morning. No one pays to eat, regardless of family income. The only requirement is that Under state law, any school that participates in the federal School Breakfast Program and has at least 40% of its enrollment approved for free or reduced-price mealsI reached out to his Principal this year to see if this is something we can get for Brennan’s school in the Fall of next year because it gets time consuming and expensive to get breakfast on the table, him dressed and out the door in order to drop him at school and fight rush hour traffic to be at work on time. We need more programs like this. We need programs that aim to feed children.

Let’s have an attitude of gratitude and understand that it is a blessing to be able to feed your children, but we should never look down on those that can’t afford. We have to stop stigmatizing those that are less fortunate and see it is an opportunity to invoke change in our school districts and states. Look to see if your state has this program because no child in America should go hungry.

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