I’ve stayed away from aggressive political posts until now, but I can no longer hold my silence.
You see, I want to explain to all of you who fight the bern why some of us embrace it.
I want to explain to you why my generation (in general of course) is not as entitled as my parent’s generation or my grandparent’s generation make us out to be.
I want to explain to you that we know “free” education is not really free; that the money must come from somewhere.
I want to explain to you why we too deserve the same rights and opportunities that you experienced when you were younger.
But, let’s make this post about me. Let’s make it correspond to my life so that those of you who are a little more sensitive don’t feel attacked.
First, I want a living wage and affordable education. You say I’m lazy, I say I deserve it.
Do you know that the past year in the United States I worked three jobs, THREE JOBS, every week to make ends meet on top of going to school for 22 credit hours? That is the equivalent of being in class 21 hours ( not including the class hours for my independent studies; not including the time I spent studying or reading or the time in the studio finishing projects). My breaks between classes were not breaks. I spent them working in the office of the building where I attended classes and while I could “study,” I wasn’t supposed to have text books open and on the desk per order of the higher ups.
When classes ended I went to my other job as a tutor or as a waiter and when I clocked out from those jobs I went back into the studio to study or work some more. I never made the 30 minute drive back home before 1 am and was always back on campus before 9 am. I worked 10-12 hours a week in the school office, 5 hours a weeks as a tutor, and 33 hours a week normally in the restaurant. That, for those of you not keeping track, is a 50 hour work week on top of 21 hours directly in a classroom.
Even with all of this time spent working, I struggled to make ends meet. I struggled to pay for the art supplies my classes requires (for those of you who do not understand how expensive these supplies are please understand that for example, in my painting class I had to spend 200$ in the beginning of the semester for basic supplies not including fees included later in the year, or for replacements etc.) and I had more that one art class. I struggled to pay for my gas, for the $200 book we used once, for the parking fees on campus and the counseling fees and for the required printing for classes. I struggled to pay for food and to pay for the work uniforms that were required. And I am LUCKY! My parents pay for my phone and my car insurance and my medical bills and let me move back in to save money before coming to spain. I have scholarships so my loan debt is only half of what my friends have racked up not even considering we attend the cheapest university in our region. On top of all of this, I made A’s in all of my classes besides one (a B+ as I missed the A by 3 points).
But, you still say I’m lazy? Well if this isn’t enough for you let’s take a look at the extracurricular activity. In one semester alone I organized the student side of the African Diversity Showcase which also included choreographing a traditional african dance, was the student liason between the art/graphic design programs and the Dean’s Student Council, and helped to organize and run the other art education students (by default under the professor) for the Student Art Workshop where we teach local kids. I was also a member of the Global Awareness Project and the Art Club. This was all just in the first three months. I won’t bore you with what happened the last three months of the school year or during the summer.
I worked so much and so hard that my body literally began to shut down. I developed vasculitis. My body began to attack itself and the blood vessels in my arms and legs burst leaving huge splotches of blood visible underneath the skin’s surface. It hurt to stand, to walk, to do anything that required moving the joints in my arms and legs because they were so inflamed with blood. All I wanted to do was sleep, and the doctor tried to tell me that I couldn’t work anymore in the restaurant–that I needed to rest, but I couldn’t.
But you say that I am entitled for wanting to be able to work and pay comfortably for my food and my gas. You say I am entitled and lazy for wanting my tuition and education FOR THE VERY LEAST at an affordable price. You must be right.
You see, this is just the surface of my reason for feeling the bern.
Let’s take this post back to my life here in Spain for a moment. Did you know I have never before seen a black or racial mannequin in my life before coming here? Did you know I have never been able to buy my hair products in a section not marked “ethnic hair care” or that I have never been able to buy makeup without some silly, dramatic name like honey bloom sunburst or stardust caramel while my mother can buy hers with a name like tan 345 as if my skin is some exotic dream and not a reality I live with every day. DID YOU KNOW I HAVE NEVER GONE SO LONG IN MY LIFE WITHOUT BEING CALLED BLACK BECAUSE GUESS WHAT? I am NOT ONLY BLACK. My cultural identification and allegiance is my choice and my ethnic heritage is a product of the blood that runs in my veins. I have never felt so un-objectified as a woman as I do here nor so respected. Our bodies are not images of sex here.
They say our generation has no great contributors. I say you don’t want to hear us. You bury us under school loan debt and red tape. You say our ideas are too radical and will not work. You tell us to shut up because our constitution says we are equals so we must be.
We know that nothing in life is really free. We are living proof. We attend school for an average of $10,00 a year in tuition if you are an in-state resident not including those pesky little fees like counseling fees, parking fees, and lab fees they add on in the fine print nor the textbooks and supplies. We are told go to school or you cannot find a job and make a living, but then we graduate and cannot live because the debt slowly chokes us while the older generation had a much closer comparison between their wages and the cost of attendance.
This post is nearing the length of a novel so I’ll wrap up my rant here. We, those crazy, entitled, selfish, lazy members of my generation only want to compete globally with the rest of the world. We want our chance to stand among the greats, to receive quality education at an affordable price, to receive affordable wages, to be able to care for our children when they are born with paternity and maternity leave, to have a clean and stable environment for everyone, to have healthcare for everyone, to stop the censoring of female bodies and for the idea of feminism to prevail. We want a world where I can see people like me reflected in the media, on posters, and as the mannequin in a store window. I stand as a social liberal and if I am lazy and entitled for that, then so be it.