All The Ups and Downs - Guest Blog Post
Topic: If you had the ability to change one thing about the United States, what would it be and why?
As you know the title of my book is called “Burn This City to the Ground,” so you might imagine I would say something about the riots, George Floyd or Black Lives Matter. The book is also about disabled individuals and how they struggle. I also speak about the homeless situation here and how Floyd protected the homeless. Some talk about equality. Some talk about equity. What I would like to talk about is a better quality of life. It's not about fairness. It's about raising the collective vibration and creating a deeper understanding. That all sounds a but new age but allow me to explain.
I knew George Floyd from working with the Minneapolis homeless community. To give you an idea of how he helped the homeless and what it is like to be homeless in Minneapolis I will give a run down of the situation. In the shelter where George Floyd worked homeless individuals can sleep for one night. After that they get breakfast and then they are on their own. Lunch and dinner are typically served in different locations during the weekdays. It keeps them moving, keeps them warm. That's the typical day for homeless in the winter.
The shelter also has a program to get people out of homelessness. They can become residents of the shelter but there are only so many spots on the male and female floors. Once they graduate from their respective floors there are dorms on the floor above with individual bathrooms and kitchens. After that there are rent controlled studio apartments in the building next door. Then it is on to normal life. The problem is that many homeless people collect their check on the first of the month, then spend it on alcohol and drugs. They are back at the shelter by mid month. Case workers schedule appointments that they never show up for. They make no effort out of homelessness. They are okay with it. I feel like George Floyd and I would have a common interest in changing their quality of life. To get them somewhere where they are well protected and cared for.
The client I care for in my book, Samantha, also has a vested interest in the welfare of the disabled. Currently the “baby boomer” generation is reaching nursing home age. That is a huge burden on the healthcare system and puts unnecessary hardship on the disabled people who depend on the same workers. I am still working in the industry and every weekend is devoid of caregivers. You have administrators in the company coming in on the weekends to work shifts at salaried wages. They hire people to work and they come in, find out they have to deal with very personal aspects of caregiving and then don't come back. My wage has gone up six dollars and hour in the past six years but it still isn't enough. The quality of life here also suffers because there are not enough reliable people to take care of sick individuals. No one wants to do the work.
The third aspect is the minority communities. I have had close friends in Minneapolis who are Latino, Somali, Hmong and African American. There are problems with gangs, crime, violence and discrimination. When the police don't protect you like the white, suburban communities many neighborhoods choose to take up arms and protect themselves. Any conversation about change has to begin that way, that the crime is not inherit in the community, but a necessary reaction. You have police officers coming in from the suburbs who aren't fluent with the ethnic and urban communities of inner Minneapolis and Saint Paul, the Twin Cities. So, of course there is conflict. What can we do when there is a lack of understanding and education. My wife is Hmong. They are refugees granted asylum in the United States after the Vietnam War. My boss is Latino. I have so many Somali, African and African American friends and coworkers. Once we realize all of these social and professional systems are connected it is hard to ignore the problem.
Yet, it is the quality of life we are worried about. Opportunities for families, in workplaces, in the community. It is about giving people the opportunities to achieve and move forward. For the homeless, disabled, minorities of all creeds and nationalities. If there was one thing I could change it would be this higher standard of living, not just for one group but for everyone. I don't want to be too political in this post but I will let your readers draw on these conclusions. This is the situation in Minneapolis. Things George Floyd cared about. Things we all care about. I think we can do better as individuals, as a country, and as a civilization. Raise the vibration and get these people help.