Thursday, November 10, 2011

Do you support drug testing to get approval to be on Welfare? If so, why are we friends?

In a country where people are exploited on a daily basis, what do we do to relieve or ignore the feeling that we are oppressed? Well, we oppress others-- if not by hitting the voting booths, by participating in a Facebook poll.

Yesterday, my Facebook feed featured several friends who had clicked yes on the following poll:

Now, I do not know Nathan Skol Vikings Lee, an adult man who wears his favorite sexual position on his jersey (talk about flaunting your sexual preferences). I do not know any of his 60,544 friends and I, hopefully, do not know most of the 1,748,371 people who participated in his poll. I do, however, know some of them as they somehow ended up on my Friends list.

I know that Facebook friendships can often be as deep and memorable as a Republican's logic, but some of my "friends" on the social networking site are actually my friends. So, while not surprised, I was deeply disturbed to see some of these friends exercise their right to self-righteous policy-by-mouseclick action. [Side note: Facebook was useful in getting Betty White to host SNL, but if this is how we start changing policy, I'm moving to another planet.] More disturbing, however, is that all of these friends voting "YES" on Mr. 69's poll are people of color-- all from poor and working class families.

A bit irate, I posted the following status update last night:

As I noted in the stream of dialogue that followed, my status update is in response to people readily jumping on the opportunity to endorse, collude with, and push for the criminalization of poor and working class women (particularly women of color).

There seems to be a sick belief that by virtue of paying taxes into a government that then (very conditionally, and after multiple hoops and vicious monitoring) provides public assistance to people in financial need, "we" somehow earn the right to strip those in need of fundamental rights (such as Privacy, as a friend noted in an earlier comment) and impose economic and criminal sanctions at will. What I found discombobulating about my pro-drug testing friends' actions, is that they, like me, are children of poor and working class women of color. In essence, they are saying that in the event of financial hardship, their mothers must also be drug-tested in order to receive financial benefits.

I am not arguing against the reality that our communities struggle with and against substance use and abuse. I am arguing against the fact that this poll and those voting for it ungently suggest women receiving or applying for welfare are substance users. And, in any event, to be so eager to impose economic sanctions on our mothers, sisters and grandmothers when it does little to nothing in addressing the substance use and abuse challenges our communities experience, is awfully disturbing to say the least.

For medical reasons, I have blood drawn often. Each time I visit my local phlebotomist, I read the statement of regulations telling people what will disqualify their urine sample. I am disturbed, not by the existence of regulations (I seem to have grown accustomed to being policed on this planet), but by the tacit assumption that, left to our own accord, people will veer into criminal activity ("criminal" being an arbitrary concept, applied mostly on people of color, of course). 

I am disheartened by the hypocrisy, moral myopia and plain ignorance in those who find pleasure in the criminalization of poor and working class women and women of color, without recognizing that these women are our mothers, our grandmothers, our sisters, and, one day, our daughters and granddaughters. By this logic, we should also start drug testing our 80 year old abuelas before granting them Medicare benefits.

Lastly, I find it ironic to focus on imposing accountability measures for poor and working class women at a time when people around the world are revolting against the lack of accountability of corporations that receive more public support than our mothers ever will. As it turns out, not only are corporations now considered people, they are people who deserve more respect, privacy and freedom than poor and working class women do.

To close, I must again ask those who voted "YES" on this poll: 

How and why are we friends?