When I woke up this morning, I felt no different from the day before. The lights came on, the water ran for the shower, the locks didn’t loosen, and the sun took its sweet time rising past the upper Harlem skyline my window frames for us. When NBC News reported on the 25th hour government shutdown, I felt hard-pressed to feel anything but increased disappointment in a system that continues to push average people further to the edges of our so-called American Dream.
To wit, Dr. Chris Emdin, hip-hop professor and all-around thoughtful guy wrote:
Schools are ineffective, the criminal justice system is broken, poverty is running rampant, unemployment is at an all time high, the people have lost hope … NEWSFLASH, the government has been shutdown for quite a while now.
As a teacher seeing the shift of our neighborhood’s population before my very eyes, a neighborhood formerly dominated by Dominicans now shifting towards South and Central Americans and families from the Middle East, our culture is moving at a faster rate than our government wants to accept. Rather than working on a set of laws and programs that employs people to fortify our roads, train tracks, and bridges in decay, bolster infrastructure, solidify a better vision for immigration reform, eliminate hunger and homelessness, or compensate our public servants appropriately, a few nonsensical men want to jeopardize the millions of people directly or indirectly affected by a federal shutdown.
The cost of medicine, rent, and fresh food slim down our wallets by the inches, and our military industrial complex is immune to the inefficiencies of the House, and this is what we’ve been asked to pledge our allegiance to.
I contemplate my families’ futures, as so many of them have bought into this vision for success we call the American Dream. More of my students’ parents speak and read in English as well as their children, working as many jobs as their bodies allow them. This country’s vision is seriously flawed for effective government when the least of us have a better work ethic than our representatives.
I’m sorry, kids. This generation that’s supposedly leading us are doing an awful job. We’ll do better. I hope.