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One Reason To Occupy

This story is an example of the kind of change in consciousness about who we are and how we might relate to one another that the Occupy Movement supports and inspires.

This story is true, and it is happening now. Today, I am lucky enough to have Z with me, and to be caring for her all day. She is the sweetest, cutest baby I know. The granddaughter of the woman who works for us, she weighed about three pounds at birth, and now, at 13 months, seems fairly healthy, although she is small and has asthma.

It’s hard to know whether the asthma comes from the small apartment in the Patterson Projects, where Z lives with her mother, grandmother and two other people. Z is small like her mother and has her wide, bright eyes. Otherwise, her features are like her dad’s. He got out of prison a few months ago, and visits Z sometimes. Z’s mother takes care of two children and works parttime. Her mother, Celie, who works for us, is one of the most remarkable people I have ever known. Not only does she always go beyond the call of duty as a helper for us, she raises an entire extended family, giving them her constant wisdom and love.

This is not unusual in African American families. I have known many instances of grandmothers taking care of their children’s children. When I lived in Youngstown, Ohio, I knew a woman who was raising each of her three children’s children. She was raising them because every one of her own children, two sons and a daughter, had been shot and killed in situations involving drugs.

The situation in the Patterson projects is not so different from the one in Youngstown, where poverty and shootings over drugs are the norm. The fact is that Z and every member of her family is under risk living where they are. For years, we have tried to get Celie and her family to move to a safe place, but rents are high here, where we live, and Celie’s daughter is loathe to leave the culture and friends that she she grew up with and knows so well.

But there is Z. Z, who is curled up into my arms, playing with beads I wear around my neck. Z, who is listening to me read Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream Speech,” which continues to resonate these many years later, and which most certainly applies to Z and her family. Today I will read to Z, I will take care of her in a house where there is no asbestos, and where there will be no television blaring, only an actual human voice, encouraging, nurturing and offering hope.

It was only after offering to take care of Z for a day that I realized today happens to be Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. I know he would love Z, who is part of my extended family. In the Occupy movement, we understand how all human beings, rich, poor and middle class, are interconnected, and we are making the effort to relate to one another in better ways. Some days it isn’t more complicated than changing a neighbor’s child’s diaper. Some days you realize that all "occupy"
means is living right.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

john ready January 17, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Once again, ethics and morality, as you and others have stated, need to be re-examined in this country. "Living right" means living responsibly, not assuming rights over others, not supporting echelons, not excluding the poor, not depriving the middle class, or helping to pave the way for a corporate run America.
Donna Brennan January 17, 2012 at 08:23 PM
We all need to be kind to one another and especially show appreciation for the kind acts of others. That being said, corporate changes need to happen, but not all corporations are evil.
William Mays January 17, 2012 at 09:07 PM
So what does this have to do with corporations? Is it their fault that Celie lives in the projects?
john ready January 18, 2012 at 04:06 AM
I'm guessing it has to do with the reason there is an OCCUPY Movement to begin with, Mr. Mays. And it is certainly the fault of a corrupt system, one that is dominated by corporations, that keeps people down and poor.
Jack B Goode January 22, 2012 at 07:55 PM
People have different ideas about "living right". Many people seem to have a personal demon that in their opinion is ruining society. Some people on this blog think it is "big corporations" others think it is "big government", others think it is"'organized religion". I suggest that we stop fighting imaginary monsters and live according to our conscience> end of sermon

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