Friday, September 24, 2010

Why Velma Hart simply is NOT the Posterchild for 'Blacks and this Recession'

I was gonna leave the Velma Hart situation alone, because I just thought it was obvious that she was a plant.

Her segment on Hardball:

There is a reason why Black folks are going---' woman, please'.

A household with TWO INCOMES?

Children in PRIVATE school?

And her pain is not being able to have a new car?

When Black unemployment is double that of the rest of the nation, and everybody knows somebody who is un - or UNDER - employed......

if you were trying to find someone Black... this woman shouldn't be your posterchild for 'what has happened to the Black community during this recession.'

Black folks listen to her and go ' what recession for VELMA'?

I'm not hating on Velma and her family.

I'm glad she and her husband were gainfully employed. but, if you want to face of this recession....(I don't usually go personal here, but I will on this occasion.)
If you want to see the face of Black unemployment, you can look at me.
I was fired from a job where I had nothing but excellent reviews. Call it downsizing, but it meant that I was out of a job.

I also know that I am blessed, and though it hurt, I've come upon luck that others have not.

The exact week that I was fired from my job, I got a call for a Supervisor's position in a local Census Bureau office. I had applied for a weekend position, and this came up, and though the hours were 'non-traditional', I gratefully took it. The pay wasn't what I was making, but it was enough to cover my cost of living, because I had long since turned into a ' cash is king' household, cutting out frivolities. I spent 8 months employed by the U.S. Census, and I want to thank the U.S. Constitution for mandating that it be done every 10 years.

Working at the Census, I saw a slice of the face of unemployment in this country. From our office, I got to interact with a nice diverse set of people. The bosses above me, save one, were all Black men. Highly educated Black men who had spent many years in Corporate America before being downsized. I worked with a number of people who were self-employed until the recession hit, and the businesses that had sustained them for years, but this economy was just THAT BAD.

Of all the ethnic groups, I'd say that the Latinos were by far the youngest people working in the office. The Blacks and Whites, pretty much without exception, were people with experience in the working world. By virtue of seeing their work ethic up close and personal, I can't believe that they were fired for being unproductive - it's just that bad of a market out there. Got to know many folks who were bitten by the downturn in real estate- genuine investors that had been bitten hard by the market, and the ramifications of folks skipping out because they just couldn't pay rent.

I'll never forget sitting at lunch one day with one of my colleagues - a 20+ year veteran of ad sales, said that she felt the Census was a sort of ' Main Street' bailout of sorts. That for many folks, it helped them just in time, gave them a sense of purpose, and stopped the pounding of the spirit that unemployment can cause. I had to agree with her.

One of the best things about the Census was working with so many veterans, from different wars, and to meet the younger people who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hearing their opinions about what was going on there was interesting. And, they were another reason why Ms. Hart irked me. The veterans I spoke with at the Census had nothing but positive things to say about this President. They see the changes in how veterans are treated and appreciated that it was trickling down to the ground level with the soldiers.

Even as the Census wound down, another blessing came my way, and a random resume I sent out half-heartedly came through with an interview, and a new position. I'm not making what I was making before I got fired, but, it's pretty close, and I feel fortunate to have found it. Remember to always count your blessings.

Listening to Mrs. Hart, I just didn't see how she missed all the blessings she has.

She's a CFO, talking about private school and bummed about a new car. Does she not realize how many folks would love to have her ' issues'?

Has the recession skipped her family?

I ask this, because there was a new report out about successful Black people and philanthropy.

In Affluent Blacks More Charitable, Feel Greater Responsibility to Provide Financial Support to Family Than Non-Blacks

Affluent Black Americans are more likely to give to charitable causes and feel responsible for providing financial support to adult family members than affluent non-Blacks, according to a Northern Trust survey of "Wealth in Black America."

Significant differences in charitable giving between affluent Blacks and non-Blacks

Affluent Blacks feel greater responsibility to provide financially for adult family members than non-Blacks.
Affluent Blacks, more than non-Blacks, feel responsible for family members and expect to provide them with consistent financial support over the next ten years, according to the survey.

Currently, 50 percent of affluent Blacks said they provide financial support to adult children; 32 percent to siblings; 21 percent to nieces or nephews; and 18 percent to cousins. In particular, financial support of adult children has risen dramatically in the financial crisis, up from 24 percent in 2008.

When asked what needs would be met by their financial support of those family members, general living expenses was the No. 1 response, displacing long-term care and disability, which was the top response in 2008. This year, 59 percent cited general living expenses compared with only 42 percent in 2008.

Maybe Mrs. Hart just doesn't have this experience. Could be, but then nearly everyone I know can't do six degrees of separation between themselves and someone who has been affected by this recession that's family. We aren't talking about Pookey and Ray-Ray, but the family that never thought they'd be in this position, that this recession has put in this position.

You want to beat up the President about the ' Black face' of this recession, with unemployment double the national rate? Take a trip up to Detroit and talk to some former GM workers, who were good workers, and lost their jobs because of the bankruptcy and rebuilding the company.

Why don't you go find some of those highly educated Black teachers summarily dismissed by Rhee in DC. Sure, some of them might have been bad teachers, but I'm going to lay money & say not all of them were.

I don't hate on Velma because she's successful...that's fine.

But, don't put this woman up as representative of the true Black middle class in America. And definitely don't have her lying on national TV.


Brian said...


I had no idea you were dealing with all of that. Thanks for sharing the story.

I immediately felt the same way about Velma Hart. But I didn't want to say anything. You ended up saying what I have been thinking for the past week since the Town Hall event. Thank You a thousand times for that. There is no way she should be the face of Black hardship in America.

I really doubt if this woman has any real clue of what genuine hardship and struggle looks like and feels like. She doesn't seem to know what she has.

There are millions of Black poor and working class in this Country... the working poor especially (including me) who know what real struggle feels like. But they are left out of the discussion altogether... ever notice that? They aren't even part of the discussion. It is as if they don't exist. The White House has made a calculated decision that I should be ignored. That's a serious problem.... because I will be ignoring these jackasses come election time. (Made a fool of myself when I voted the first time/the last time).

You see... it shouldn't even be an either/or thing. It shouldn't be a discussion about the Middle Class and no one else. What about the working poor? And some of the folks in that group are educated.
Big misconception about working class folks is that they are scum.... or that they aren't educated. I have my degrees, but I have been under-employed for quite sometime.... (since 06 officially...but actually a little longer than that). This is mainly because it is impossible to get the "specialized experience" that the government requires at my level, and secondly..the market is flooded with candidates who have Ivy League educational backgrounds, who have flashier resume's, and who are much more networked & well-connected.

But I have worked with a few other people at my level who were college grads. We exist. Your story illustrated the situation perfectly.

I am drowning in about $75-80 thousand in student loan debt that I will likely be unable to pay. I am always half a step away from homelessness & destitution at any moment (the anxiety/stress makes me physically ill). And I am in a job that I hate. I only live with the basics and still have trouble taking care of standard living expenses. I have hated life these past several years.

I am about to go to a class this morning where the Professor will interrogate me in front of the class by asking stupid personal questions like what I do for a living. This is typical in grad school. But I always tell them that I am unemployed.... that i'm a career student. Why? For one... it's none of their Goddamn business. But the real reason is because I am completely ashamed. Folks who attend Wash. U. are uppity Whites with fancy backgrounds...w/ their noses held up in the air. It's always better for me to say i'm just a student.

This is why I haven't been on a date in 8 years...and never dated at all before that. And keep this in mind...economics/employment means more for a man... it defines your importance...unfortunately. So it bites even harder... esp. a Black male. It is a shame.

I am running late for class.

But this is the best post you have ever done here.... (if no one else comments...).

I will cross-post this to the Dailykos if you don't mind. If you have not done so already. This deserves to be seen by a few more eyes than this blog can probably facilitate.

(this is the kind of posting that I was hoping you would do more often).

And glad you found work so fast... the timing was indeed perfect.

Roderick said...

My first and last question for Ms. Velma has always been: Who asked you to defend the president?

Rikyrah, you're on point as always. When the black cons over at Bookerrising started drooling over a black woman I knew something was shady.

rikyrah said...

thank you AI and Roderick for the compliments for this article.

if you want to post it at DK, fine.

Brian said...

Just realized it is also posted at JJP, which has a billion readers. So I may or may not post @ Dkos. Kos readers are not likely to comprehend it anyway, especially an issue in a Black context or from a Black perspective. The readers of that site have a history of "not getting it" when it comes to Black commentary.

Anonymous said...

As Bush Shadow suggested, she should just go shopping and soothe her souls with a New PAIR A SHOES!

Andre said...

Nicely written post Rikyhah. It's clear that you've done your homework on Velma Hart...and I completely concur with the sentiments around the room about NOT making her a representative for black America.

But (here comes my spin)...

As a disgruntled Obama supporter myself, I can co-sign with her "exhaustion" defending the President and his administration. For all the work Obama and his crew has accomplished since taking office, the major issue for America - the economy - has been untouched. Kowtowing to the right (i.e. "bipartisanship") has also made his administration and the Democratic party in general, a complete joke. Once Republicans start taking seats (I predict a major congressional shift, mostly because of those Tea Party loons), and chance to push a progressive agenda will be summarily defeated. So, in many respects, Obama has dropped the ball.

Don't get me wrong: I'm annoyed to see Velma Hart become some national figure...mostly because it will likely create an army of people just like her come the midterm elections. But the problem with trying to crucify her is that you give the impression (whether it's your intention or not) that her status somehow limits her ability/right to be critical of the President's performance. When I first heard about her comments, I wanted to find her and give her a high-five. Mostly, because I saw sharing a similar view point.

When I was canvassing neighborhoods on miserable, wet, 30-degree days here in Michigan, it wasn't for me. When I was getting doors slammed in my face preaching the Gospel of Obama, it wasn't for me. I'm not a baller by no means. But I'm doing OK. I'd still be doing OK if McCain was President. But I - like you, AI, Roderick, and millions of other people - take up a cross for the millions of OTHER people who AREN'T OK, those who are suffering. Outside of actually serving in office ourselves, we use our computers, our feet, and our mouths to support those folks we believe can do the work for us. When those folks don't, we have the right...nay, the duty to call them on it.

Being well off doesn't make that duty any less notable.

Andre said...

Sorry for all the typos, but the way. They've become one of my staples.

ch555x said...

Good points!