On Ripped Shoes
Change.org sent me an email today asking me to sign a petition to get Nike to sponsor Sara Robles. If you’re not familiar with her story, Sara is a 23 year old woman representing the USA in the oncoming Olympics. She lives off of $400 a month, and the public outcry for her economic situation has been fierce, from what I’ve seen.
I have a lot of complex emotions regarding this in retrospect to my childhood. I’ve written about this before in a different light, but my past has a way of defining the way I view things.
Sara Robles is fighting hard for her dream, and she’s doing a damn good job. She’s made it incredibly far, and has proved to a lot of people that she’s not going to accept defeat. Which is wonderful.
My problem: the situation in which I raised was ALSO incredibly tough. I’m not alone in my experiences, but I can only speak for myself here.
My mother worked 2 full-time jobs, along with whatever else she could pick up as a single parent. She had help from the county, received the random but useless “aid” from my absentee father, yet STILL we were in such a situation where my mother would feed us supper and sit on quietly, her face gaunt, going without food so that we were able to eat and be full even if that meant her skipping meal after meal.
There were times to where we didn’t even have that, and this woman, my mother, was able to somehow relinquish enough of her pride and have to ASK US to eat at a friend’s house that night, because she “hadn’t gone grocery shopping” which was code for “we don’t have the money”.
My mother and us kids, we didn’t have great dreams for success. There was no desire to compete in the Olympics. The only medal we thought of was one of survival.
Where was the public outcry for my family who gave everything they could, yet it still wasn’t enough to live on? Why is one poverty-stricken individual in the spotlight, when 1 in 6 Americans live in poverty?
My mother was villanized for her poverty, for being “lazy,” for being “uneducated” (she has a Masters degree, so no) and for marrying a man who didn’t have the resources to deal with his PTSD, so he self medicated and eventually became too unsafe to remain in the home.
My story was never “pretty” enough for someone to lend a hand. For that, you need cream colored skin and large adoring eyes and someone with a bad savior complex and let’s be honest: Brown faces do not often inspire that kind of affection unless they’re living someplace that’s supposedly “underprivileged” or a “third world country.”
I never wanted to be someone’s poster child for a poverty fund, I just would have liked to be able to come home and not worry about how hungry I was, how worried I was about my mother continuously being sick, about hiding any injuries I received because I knew that doctors cost money, about the electricity bill being paid so I could do my homework.
The media, aka White America, only wants to see the pretty side of things. They tell us to shut up, to keep our stories to ourselves, to “get over it.” Because compassion can’t be spared to most people who don’t fit inside what a pretty picture should look like.
I’m tired of having my humanity overlooked.
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