Sure, Iím grateful for welfare reform
You think itís easy
That women like me just sit back on our butts down here, taking welfare and living high off the hog, while you sweat in your back-breaking job to pay for it in taxes.
But Iíve been there for three generations and my kids are making for the fourth, and Iím telling you itís easier getting out of the prisons you build for my kids than out of the goddamn cycle of poverty you claim we love to live in.
I know none of this excuses what Iíve done.
Iím just telling you this because you didnít think I ever tried to play the system straight.
I did try and pull myself up by my bootstraps.
It just didnít work.
When people offered to give me an education, I took it.
Maybe you think itís fund being down here with junkies and turf wars, and every goddamn street gang looking at me with rape in their eyes.
And I learned, scared shit of falling back into that bullshit.
I learned my letters, my numbers and a few things you people call liberal arts.
I learned how to work, too.
How to run this machine and that.
How to give change and measure out coffee
How to cook meals for other people.
By the time I got through redoing myself no body wanted it.
Sure, McDonalds wanted to hire me at fifty bucks less than I made on welfare, and no medical insurance.
The cost of the bus getting down there and paying someone to watch my kids while I worked left me flat broke Ė so I couldnít even pay my bills.
Sure, I heard the crap you people handed out about how work made us feel so proud about ourselves.
But you canít eat pride or dress my kids in it.
Of all those lessons I learned from my education, the most valuable was to take the most of any given situation.
So I did, trading my dignity for food on the table, clothing on my back and a roof over my head.
Thatís when you people came out with welfare reform.
First you cut off funds if I happened to get pregnant, while at the same time telling me I can never get an abortion and refuse to pay for me to have birth control, as if ďjust saying noĒ is going to keep a determined boy from doing what he wants, down here in the ghetto or up there in those houses on the hill.
Heck, if saying no was so easy, then why are so many of your lily white daughters coming down off the hill to get rid of their babies in the abortion clinics?
Then , as if saying we arenít human enough to have sex the way you folks do, you say that if I get a job and lose it, I can never get welfare again Ė or live in subsidized housing once weíve get an income one cent over the poverty limit.
In other words, youíve booted us out so you can get break on your taxes, to find jobs we thought ended with slavery.
And even those jobs are shrinking since you people on the hill decided even the working people earn too much and send their jobs over seas where people will work for less than it takes to live.
So its us against those you just dumped from jobs, fighting for whatís left, bosses picking and choosing, and who do you think those bosses will choose when they have a choice between us and them?
And now, youíve got nerve enough to complain about my living on the street, condemning me for my kids freezing to death or worse getting raped in the shelters no decent person will live in unless dragged there by the police?
You even expect me to be grateful for all youíve done for us, how you really improved our lives, when all you really wanted was another tax break.