I’ve been silent. More so than I normally tend to be. I couldn’t see the point in trying anymore. Things are out of control and it doesn’t feel like we have the power to change what’s going on. What we want and think doesn’t seem to matter anymore.
Here in California people are busy talking about the drought and legalization of Marijuana but one of the biggest issues our State is dealing with is a massive housing crisis. There is a lack of affordable housing and a growing epidemic of homelessness. In 2012 I worked for the City of Santa Monica. We had the Housing Authority and the Affordable Housing Department. We had a Redevelopment Agency and an entire team dedicated to working with non-profit agencies to build affordable housing units. All of a sudden, overnight Governor Brown ordered Redevelopment Agencies to be dissolved. People lost their jobs, projects lost their funding and the production of affordable housing units for the low-income, homeless, the vets and the disabled slowed down almost to a halt.
Here we are four years later and homelessness is running rampant up and down the State. Here in Orange County the homeless who were living in our Civic Center were relocated to an abandoned bus depot and homeless people living in tent cities along our river bed are being harassed and told to move. I don’t understand where these people are expected to go. We don’t have enough shelters to house them.
This problem isn’t unique to Orange County. I caught this article in the Los Angeles Times yesterday about the latest homeless sweeps in Los Angeles. Over a decade ago, Los Angeles International Airport began buying up the homes in Manchester Square. Manchester Square is a housing tract near LAX. Over the years the area became a sort of ghost town save for the few holdouts. Today, the area is a hotbed for homeless people in LA.
After reading that article I bumped into this other article and it moved me to tears. I’m grateful to the two journalists who took the time to highlight the plight of the sick children in our foster care system and for also turning up the volume on how selflessly this Muslim man cares for this country’s most sick & downtrodden. At a time when a lot of people’s anti-Muslim sentiments and rhetoric are deafening it’s important to remind the masses that this country is what it is because of ALL of the people who live here.
This story of Mohamed reminded me of the Emma Lazarus poem on the Statue of Liberty. The first immigrants to come this country came to find religious freedom and a better life and WILL ALWAYS BE THAT COUNTRY despite the efforts of this unfortunately divisive, hateful and racist President. This man’s Presidency will be a blip in this Country’s history.
Immigrants have been coming to this country for hundreds of years to build a new life for themselves and some of them, like Mohamed have gone on to become stand up citizens who embody the sentiments of Lazarus’ poem while entitled people like this President, who were born here, have built their personal wealth by denying people of race housing, by not paying their fair share of taxes, by not paying their employees fair wages, by employing immigrants and paying them under the table, by selling products that were not made in America with their names plastered all over them, by swindling students out of tuition funds and by not being philanthropic.
It was like the universe was talking to me yesterday, because I also spotted this quote in a magazine and it SLAPPED me the face!
“Hopelessness is the enemy of justice.” – Civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson
As a Libra, I find it challenging to stay quiet when my scales of justice are not in balance, but for 3.5 months I have stayed quiet. I have let myself lose hope, but after being woken up by the universe yesterday I’m ready to speak up again! I will MAKE people listen, I will be a change agent. I will do my part to not let an ignorant white man take down the country that immigrants like my grandparents and parents have built. This week I’ll be attending the Newport Beach Women’s Democratic Club meeting and I will join a Women’s March Huddle in my neighborhood as part of the 10 Actions for the First 100 Days campaign.
I will follow Dylan’s advice and I will not go gently into the night and I will rage against the dying of this country’s light!