Join the rally Tuesday, Feb. 22, 12 noon, on the north steps of the Capitol in Sacramento to oppose California budget cuts to CalWORKS and MediCal that will have a deadly impact on children and families
by Tiny aka Lisa Gray-Garcia
“Californians need to get real!” As the words shot out of Jerry Brown’s mouth, my body started to shake with fear from that “real.” The “real” of a near empty stomach, the “real” of bitter cold cement and vinyl back seats of cars to sleep on when you have no home. I had felt that “real” for so many years of childhood poverty, the kind of “real” our children will be feeling if Brown’s proposed budget cuts to MediCal, welfare and child care are implemented.
The acts of budget genocide currently being proposed to the CalWORKS and MediCal programs in California include reductions of 13 percent to the meager cash grants we receive now for working in-system – there is no free money; us mamaz work for every penny we receive – limiting the amount of medicine we and our children get per month and the worst genocide of all, cutting off our children entirely from cash grants within 48 months.
These already stripped “aid” programs, based on the myth of the budget cuts or, as I call them, budget crumbs, are crafted on the lie that there is plenty of money to fund illegal wars that kill, poison and traumatize children and adults across the globe but never enough for poor families to survive, much less thrive.
I wondered what was real that morning for Jerry Brown as he departed his condominium without fear he would come home to a rent increase, eviction papers or a foreclosure notice, perhaps consuming a breakfast purchased without worrying that the rising cost of food would overdraw his bank account. And in the reality crafted by Jerry Brown, Schwarzenegger and so many other politricians before them. Us poor folks live in a scarcity model defined by people who have never had to go scarce.
As humans hearing about budget genocide, we tend to go to an “I got mines” mentality, denying, accusing and blaming people for the need they have, pitting one need against another, ranking oppressions and/or feeling selfish about our “own” people’s needs. This process is all fueled and supported by mainstream media supported by corporations and corrupt politicians who would rather keep the business of hate and false scarcity going as long as it keeps us from focusing on the real “real.”
The budget lies actually began hundreds of years ago with the theft of land and resources from indigenous peoples through paper trails, legislative theft and adjudicated deceit, until we suddenly had nothing to even negotiate or trade with. In the 21st century reality, working people honestly pay their taxes to support an amorphous system while being duped into this collective myth of budget scarcity. Paying into $3 trillion defense budgets and corporate pay-offs, whether they agree with them or not, and then being confused by a consistent declaration of deficit overrun.
Real budget justice models do exist in the U.S. budgets created by community-wide participation, such as the one created by multiple organizations in San Francisco known as The People’s Budget. In Oakland, a similar process is led by Ella Baker Center, and a citywide budget was organized by economic justice advocates in Chicago collaborating with alderman who were also fed up with false government and established a truly people-led budget process that managed to evenly distribute tax resources to education, city services and social services for poor and working people and was actually used in city policy.
So as Gov. Brown defines “real” as budget genocide which will have deadly consequences on our children and families, let’s follow the leads of our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin and Egypt and rise up to demand a different kind of “real” that feeds our children, employs our workers and fixes our roads, really!
Join the rally Feb. 22 in Sacramento on the North steps of the Capitol at 12:00 noon. For more information, contact Pete Woiwode at (510) 504-9552 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tiny – or Lisa Gray-Garcia – daughter of Dee, is the consummate organizer and co-founder with her mother of POOR Magazine and its many offspring and author of “Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America,” published by City Lights. She can be reached at email@example.com. Visit www.tinygraygarcia.com and www.racepovertymediajustice.org.