I am separated after 15 years of marriage. If you don't know me let me introduce myself like this: When I log into Daily Kos it says Diaries under WELCOME BACK and that is exactly what I write: diaries of my own life's perceptions and experiences. Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, wrote that divine providence caused certain books to fall into his hands, then began the flourishing of the renaissance; while I am no Pico, I do believe that divine providence has caused certain things to transpire in my presence so that I may expound upon them through my power of story-telling, observation and internal reflection. I pray my diaries render a flourishing of progressive values throughout the deep south. I think it will take an act of God.
I ain't no 'Miss Laura' from Georgia. That's for damned sure. When I wrote Django in Georgia on the Kos it was a commentary on Georgia's Democratic Party and Atlanta's huge disconnect with rural voters. Meanwhile, good people still suffer. I have been asked, will you work in the state this year? What are your plans? Why it was even suggested to me that I could do some volunteer work with the "Obama Care" sign-ups and help educate folk across the rural counties.
It ain't that easy for me. It ain't easy for any woman in Georgia. It ain't never been easy for anybody in Georgia and still good people suffer. Like the teenager who is 5 months pregnant sitting in the Division of Family and Children Services office saying she hadn't seen a Doctor yet and she was scared something was wrong with the baby. I'm scared to. After 15 years of marriage I finally got $91.00 a month in food stamps and it took three and a half months for me to get certified and I still have to wait 2-3 weeks for the card to be mailed out. So, I just go to the food pantries like other good folk who have fallen through the cracks. I worry about the young lady who has not seen a Doctor yet and I'm pissed that a state can deny Medicaid expansion. Electing a Democrat for President all those years ago made me think we'd see social services delivery become easier and the good suffering people would catch a break. We are still waiting for a result behind a Presidents election. Where is the pay off? Why didn't we get paid? It reminds me of a story that happened to my ex mother-in-law and I must relate it here.
Dear reader, I was in an interracial marriage for 15 years and I was privileged to be loved, accepted and brought into a community of love and warmth that few white folk know. Watching the interactions of my dear 2nd Mama Mamie, I learned by watching her relationships with the old white guard and the old black guard as it transpired across the years in rural Georgia. This is not written to defame or devalue anyone, just an observation from a loving daughter meant to be shared at a time like this.
Once there was a time when Mamie picked up pecans (back breaking work) from under trees to be promised half of whatever the going rate was when the lady went to sell the pecans. Now mind you Mamie was by then in her 70's and spry as could be. She worked hard picking beans, cleaning house, doing whatever that family needed. She loved that old respected family and indeed she called herself their daughter and they called her "their baby". On the Sunday when the lady was to come around and pay Mamie her cash, the lady drove up with a friend and gave Mamie a ham and two dresses instead and told Mamie she could wear them to church.
She apologized and told Mamie that she didn't get much money for the pecans and that she couldn't afford to pay Mamie anything and that was why she brought the ham. Well, Mamie was gracious and after they left she made allowances for how good they were to her and how she was sure they would make it up to her. I asked Mamie at that very time if she thought she should have got half of whatever the cash was even if it was only 15$ because that was the deal she made with them and Mamie again said, no; it was alright. So I told her right then and there, I am your daughter and I am telling you now that you need money to buy things and a ham is not something you can trade for electric bill these days and that lady was dead wrong for that; and to top it off the dresses didn't fit. I was fit though. Fit to be tied because I loved Mamie and I knew how much she had counted on that money.
Within a year or two that lady died and Mamie asked me to take her to the funeral; which of course I did.
Mamie said on the drive there, "they will have a place for me to sit up front with the family because I am their daughter; y'all may have to sit in the back".
Which I said would be ok. She went on and on about how much they loved her and how much she was going to miss the lady. Mamie had been like a daughter all those years, she did anything they asked whenever she could and you know what happened when we arrived? Mamie in all her grief stricken crying was led from the front to the back of the church where she sat with me and my girls throughout the whole service while Mamie, humiliated, genuinely cried profusely over the loss of her "Mother".
I can only say, from watching the complete disregard for people on the many levels I have seen in Georgia it sickens me to the core and I am still repulsed by this "Lady" this caricature of southern hospitality and "charm".
Why doesn't Governor Deal take the Medicaid expansion? I don't know maybe he will give us all a ham.
Or will the good Governor in Tennessee give Chattanooga citizens all a ham for the quality peer pressure laid on those plant workers? I have no doubt it was hell for them in their communities. Free Speech costs a lot in the South and evidently those costly billboards go to the highest bidder. The weak had better go with the flow in the old south or you will find yourself catching hell at your church, your job, or your home. Peer pressure is a bitch in southern culture and still good people suffer.
Peer pressure and class kept Mamie from asking for her pay and the right to say what her Labor was worth. Politicians and some "grassroots" Southern Momentum group manipulated an outcome unfavorable for workers. Forgive me if I loose it here because I just want people to know that Mamie's labor was not respected by her employer. Peer pressure left her to her own choices, yes, but she didn't know any other way and didn't believe that those people really didn't care about her. If we don't start standing up to bullies in the south who think they really represent the suffering populace we need to kick ourselves in the ass. That funeral was Mamie's kick in the ass and no more Volkswagon plants in the United States will be ours, not just the Old South's problem but ours, as a Nation, a community, a family. People are afraid in the deep south. People are afraid to speak up.
So when some southern suggests I volunteer this summer or even possibly sit 2014 out my passion compels me to write, "I ain't no Miss Laura in Georgia".
In closing you might ask, what and who is Miss Laura in Georgia? Why she actually resides in states all across the deep south, maybe even next door to you. In the movie Django Unchained Mississippi's Candyland Plantation's Mistress was the sister of Leonardo De Caprio and she ran the big house for the family. In the past southern women did their volunteer work after church and in public so often times their good deeds were seen as very Christian and appropriate. In the movie Django, Miss Laura is seen in all her charm as the hostess of dinner and yet she is in costume twice wearing jeans and a red bandanna covering her face as she delights in the beating death of a run away negro. There are a lot of women across the south who mask their true nature very well, but not to astute observers, and not to all of us in the south.
If we as a Nation don't recognize the etiquette of the old south and depart ways from it's rigid social structure and class ideology, we will never get Medicaid Expansion in Georgia, even with the lovely ladies leading the Moral Mondays picket at the Capital. I ask you dear reader is the most important thing in Georgia in 2014 winning a Senate seat?
That's what I hear. What of our Senate candidates? Michelle Nunn has indeed done some valuable work in the volunteer sector; yet she won't call herself a Democratic candidate yet all we hear down the party tube from Atlanta is the slate, the slate, the slate. Well folks, where I grew up, we had no slate until after the primary but not in Georgia. We are being told and directed just like those workers in a Tennessee plant who to vote for. Yes, it's subtle, it's not overt, but that's how they do things in the south - on the down low, ostracize you, keep you penniless. And still good people suffer.
Honestly, it's that as I write this commentary here dear diary I find I can not live with myself if I sit this one out or went volunteering across the local counties educating folk about what they are missing. I truly don't have the gas and I certainly don't have the gumption to play "Miss Laura In Georgia".
Shame, Shame, SHAME on the Old South as she continues to badness. Shame on us all for not investing in organizing the deep south. There are people across the deep south who are murmuring a "Confederacy of Progressive States" - not sure what that is - but I will keep you posted. We are coming to the end of a Black Presidency and we have not made any strides in the south. And still good people suffer. It is ungodly and un-american and I can think of no better time to do something about it than right now!.
Wed Feb 26, 2014 at 5:51 AM PT: I was asked by a commentator if this could be published on the Black KOS?
I am editing the tags to tag them, I hope they approve!
Thu May 01, 2014 at 2:58 PM PT: I have now learned that the actress who played Miss Laura is different than the woman who wore the red bandana. As it was pointed out to me it is difficult to see who is behind the mask. My apologies for the mistake, I am leaving the diary as is, because in the world I live there are many women who mask their true feelings about race and don't we all at one time or another? The inflection is to know that not all good deed doers are good, and neither are all bad people bad.