I just wanted to put a human story, upon the much used phrase of ‘systemic racism’ currently being bandied about. America has been anxious to ‘reopen’. For POC, for myself, reopening is nothing to celebrate. America has been frustrated by their ‘inconvenience’ of being without. For me, the economic pandemic will continue.
My name is Cassandra. I am a 51 year old, African American woman, who has worked hard, all my life. I write these words, from a rented apartment. I have never been able to obtain a loan, in order to purchase a home. Persons of color are often denied home loans as we have been advised we don’t have the ‘collateral’ or ‘don’t earn enough’ or ‘would not be able to pay for monthly mortgage payments. Often times, our rent payments are much higher than a mortgage payment would be. POC have spent much our lives paying off the mortgages,for a privileged America, who can then obtain loans, to purchase rental properties they then rent to us. POC are often denied the privilege of living in ‘nicer neighborhoods’ and are often pointed to higher priced, often poorly maintained rental properties.
POC have not been afforded the opportunity to build wealth via home ownership. Thusly, at this current time, White wealth is currently at $171,000, whereas Black America wealth sits currently at $17,000. As we speak, many of you are reading these words, from the privileged place of a home. My mother dreamed of owning her own home. Sadly, she passed away, three Christmas ago, never having known the privilege.
I will, most likely, never know the joy of home ownership due to the added issue of lack of wealth due to inequity in earnings, through lack of opportunities for growthand pay inequity. POC are generally the last hired and first fired. POC must even be careful, in naming their children, given the fact that names, viewed as being ‘black’ are often shunted to the end of the resume pile, if not placed into the circular file, in it’s entirety. As a POC, it is near impossible to obtain a well paying job. We are raised that we must ‘work ten times harder’ just to hope for an opportunity that rarely comes. And, if we are given an opportunity for a job, we often end up training those, far less qualified, who end up being promoted. Those promoted, often lean on our talents/skills, yet, they are the ones who obtain the pay/accolades etc of POC who work tirelessly, in hopes that one day, someone may notice, our hard work, and offer us higher positions, stock options , and better pay.
I have always dreamed of going to college. I was unable to earn enough to attend, due to helping care for my mom, who lived with chronic diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis. These, I am sure, were, in part, due to being forced to live in neighborhoods where sewage plants and other toxic waste etc are placed in neighborhoods of POC. There were also very few, if any, grocery stores where fresh fruits and vegetables are readily available. Most POC learned to live on processed foods. These are cheaper, easier to maintain, however, only exacerbates health concerns.
A beautiful white friend of mine, emailed me, recently. She hated how POC have been treated. She wanted to find a way to give me her home. She wanted to atone for all that is going on, right now, and all that has come before. I share with you, what I shared with her: POC are not asking for special treatment. We just want equal treatment. I don’t want her home. I want to be able to own my own. We just want the flag, that everyone so dearly loves, to cover us, as well. I have dreamed, for more than 30 years, of being able to have my own website where I can spend the rest of my days encouraging others and spreading joy. I long for the day, of financial freedom, from somewhere, so that I may keep scratching for that American dream. Without a college degree, or access to learning how to build a webpage, the network to obtain a grant/loan I couldn’t afford to pay back, I despair that I will ever fulfill my dream. It took years, to scrape $1,100, for savings. Yet, one financial issue, wiped out my savings in a matter of month or two.
It took me, almost 50 years, to FINALLY purchase a new car. Even though, I had zero debt, and lived within my means, I was unable to obtain a loan. It took persistence to finally find a car dealership who offered me a 2016 Ford Focus, with zero percent interest. I have not missed a payment, in four years.
I have read all the wonderful statements by various corporations, institutions, sports leagues etc. I have been heartened to see so many who say they want to help and are donating to BLM and other organizations. Yet, where does that leave me? I work hard, care for others, encourage others every day. I still write these words, from an apartment and see no way of crawling out of my financial hole, built insidiously by system racism, to obtain a home, refill my bank account, obtain a PPP, that can be forgiven(such as large corporations were able to do).
I ask that you share these words, with others, with those, whom say they wish to help, in order for them to truly understand what ‘system racism’ does to POC. Should you wish to contact me, please don’t hesitate to do so. I welcome all feedback/suggestions.
Watching George Floyd, take his last breath, has made it impossible for me to stay silent.I want the opportunity to live the American Dream. I love America. I just wished America loved me. I can’t breathe.
With much respect,