My mother raised me by herself. Welfare checks kept clothes on my back, and food stamps kept food on the table. We were the 47 percent. So when I heard Mitt Romney's comments about how he doesn't care about the 47 percent of Americans who are dependent on government assistance, it struck a cord.
"There are 47 percent.., who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it."
He has us pegged all wrong.
As a young boy, I knew when I went to the doctor we had to show a medi-something card. I knew as a boy, I used to have to go to the store with food stamps, and I hated it. I was so embarrassed each time my mother had to pull out the book of stamps to pay for my cookies, and the vegetables I agreed to eat if she got the cookies.
One thing for sure; we never felt like any victims.
My mother never WANTED to be reliable on the government. She knew she needed to get a job, so that's what she did. Soon we moved out of the project's tiny house on South Park Street. I think it was an old garage turned into a home. I remember 20 steps would bring me from the front door to the back of the house. We were the 47 percent.
But that never discouraged my mother. She continued to work, making sure I not only went to school, but I excelled. Where she failed in education, she made it her mission to not let me go down the same path she went. Now off welfare, Medicaid, and out of public housing, she was the 47 percent.
She continued to work hard, got another job at night, and two side hustles selling aloe vera juice and Avon. Shortly after that, we moved into a duplex in a part of town that was a little bit better.
While things were getting better, they were never easy. My sister had a baby, bringing another mouth into the house to feed. My mother kept working hard, and then one morning while coming home from work, she got hit by a van, broke both of her legs and her neck. She was the 47 percent, but still, she never thought of herself as a victim like Romney thinks we are because we came up poor.
Caring for my mother was hard, but she fought on. She collected disability for a while - once again dependent on the government - but eventually she was able to go back to work. Her hard work took its toll on her, and she had to get a bone replaced in her neck. To this day, her neck looks like someone slit her throat; but I know it's a sign that my mother is a fighter, a hard worker and the 47 percent.
She went back to work, saving up enough money to buy a house in the nice part of town. I remember our neighbors gave our real estate agent a petition saying we would bring the house values down because we were black.
But we didn't.
I became a man in that house on Gibbons Court, and when I turned 18, my mother and I walked to the polling off and voted. Together.
The 47 percent are not pathetic victims. We are fighters, survivors, mothers, fathers, sons and most importantly, Americans who can vote.
Xilla is the Sr. Entertainment Editor for GlobalGrind.com as well as CEO of the number 1 relationship blog BlogXilla.com/M2TB.com. He has been featured in XXL, The Source, Essence, LA Times and is considered one of the premiere bloggers in the industry. Follow him on twitter @BlogXilla
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