Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Happy Holidays? Part 2

I have completed yet another college application in an attempt to make myself a little more competitive- still chasing the so-called American Dream. Thanks to the job market, there is a glut of college graduates looking for a limited number of great jobs.

I'd just be happy with a decent paying job and a respectable career at this point. Without it, I cannot move on with the rest of my life. I have already wasted the last decade in this American Dream chase, going no where in the end. I am starting to have nightmares of being an old, angry, single, broke, Black man, living in poverty somewhere, 30 years from now (if we still have a planet by that time... if the Republicrats don't destroy it first). To add to that, it seems that having brown skin has come with a burden of having to always compensate for it.... It seems I always feel pressure to compensate for SOMETHING, especially when it comes to dealing with Whites. Whether through education, through a job, you name it. I feel like I have to have more and I have to work harder, just to get what Wally Cleaver gets almost by default. Just by virtue of being White and having an undergraduate degree... he's already a step & a half ahead of me. No work experience required either. (The elite often use their connections with decision-makers to get friends and family hired). As a Black man.... I have fewer options when it comes to having someone "put in a good word". No offense intended for any of my White readers. I am just telling it like it is. White privilege can take you a long way.

It seems that no matter how many degrees I get or how hard I work, I am still saddled.... still behind, because of race & socio-economics. That includes being burdened by the actions of the wider (Black) group, or by how I am perceived by Whites because of it, or burdened by the fact that I am locked out of the White socio-economic fraternity...and thus have a bigger challenge in moving up, or the burden of where I started from (from the back of the pack).

As Rikyrah pointed out, a recent report shows that I am not imagining things. Thanks for that link. I am starting to wonder if an American Dream really exists. Or if it exists only for certain Americans. It seems that this country is becoming more like a Caste system, where upward mobility is almost non-existent. If you are lucky enough to be in the upper middle class or in one of the elite classes, you tend to do well. However, if you are among one of the lower socio-economic groups, you are being squeezed more than ever. And on top of that, it is extremely hard to move up.
It's pretty hard to go to school if you can't afford childcare. Or it's pretty hard to go to school if you always have to work in order to keep a roof over your head...and perhaps you have a boss that doesn't like the idea that you are going to school or maybe the job doesn't offer the health coverage that you need.

And if you are lucky enough to go to school, the student loans are such a burden that you begin to doubt (with good reason) the value of the education...whether it was all worth it. It will probably take me 10 years to get out of the red in terms of the debts I accumulated to go to school. $60,000 in debt (with hundreds of dollars in monthly interests) is not a very good American dream.

I am changing my resume and I am confident that I will be in a better position this time next year. This is what I tell myself every year...but I am now taking more specific steps that will put me in a position to accomplish more in the new year.

These are the things that make me shake my head when I see folks almost hurting themselves to spend money for a so-called religious Holiday. There is no other major religious Holiday that is surrounded by so much greed. The Muslim, Jewish and other Holidays are centered around food which is in turn used to bring families together... "Family" is at the center of these cultures... Here in the U.S., it's spend spend spend... who can outspend who. Greed, money itself, the spending of money, ultra-capitalism, and over indulgence have taken the place of religion, family, love, etc... In fact, greed, money & the like, have become the new religion. Couple this with the rise in the mega-church culture, where people are being told to worship money more than the God they supposedly serve...and this is what you get. Crazed Americans (literally) seem to lose all sense for what is important this time of year. They don't seem to have any connection to reality at all. In fact, some suggest that the Holidays are an escape from reality for many Americans.

Meanwhile, I have to try to pretend that it's not the Holidays. And in many ways... it's not for me. They are just like any other day as far as i'm concerned. I don't spend much time with my family since they are scattered throughout the country... although there is a sizable number of family members in St. Louis. I hate visiting, because it's like Baghdad-light in certain parts of this city.

I typically end up working during the Holidays... even volunteering for the extra cash.

I have to listen to a lot of Bob Marley to help me through the Holidays... (that's my battle music/war music). A lot of Bob Marley...and slow breathing.... and just trying not to let things bother me.


Liberal Arts Dude said...


I was fortunate enough that my own financial and professional struggles to gain a solid foothold in the job market is long past. My original blog was a process of venting out all the negative energy and vibes that I accumulated from my years of underemployment after I graduated from college in 1994 and struggled my way through menial job after menial dead-end job.
Some of what really helped me were surprisingly enough, books like What Color is Your Parachute, Zen and the Art of Making a Living -- career guides that helped me lay out a strategy for career development and job hunting. Once I was able to get solid opportunities coming my way, internalizing the lessons of those books really helped me maximize and take full advantage of the opportunities. My own factors of being able to climb out of the rut I was in years ago was a combination of luck and relocation to a place where the job market was friendlier to someone with my limited experience and skills at that time.

Best of luck to you AI and if you want to email me to chat about career issues feel free to do so. A couple of career columnists I can recommend in the Washington Post are Mary Ellen Slayter and Amy Joyce -- they focus on career and work issues for people in their 20s to 40s.

WNG said...

I'm leaving my job (which has healthcare) to move across the country to go back to college. My friends and family think i'm crazy. I may well be crazy. I just wanted to let you know that I understand a little of what you're going through. I've also posted on the Greedmas Season if you feel like dropping by.