Wednesday, October 2, 2013

On food stamps, local schools, and all my white friends (Guest Post for D.L. Mayfield)

I am delighted and honored to be guest posting today on the blog of D.L. Mayfield. D.L. is one of my favorite bloggers out there because she bravely asks the hard questions about downward mobility and life in poor communities and then processes them so eloquently. I hope you'll dig around on her blog a bit. And if you're visiting from D.L.'s place: Welcome and make yourself at home. I'm delighted that you're here. 

A couple weeks ago, I went in with my one-year old to our local Department of Human Services. Visits like this are not entirely out of the ordinary for us. In the four years I've been married we've been on and off of both food stamps and WIC at different points, services which require at least a couple visits a year to various government buildings. This particular day, I was in to renew my son's TennCare, which is our state's Medicaid program, the only income-based service for which we still qualify. While we were waiting in line, I turned around to notice a mother and newborn baby in line behind us. I asked about the baby and tried to make polite conversation, but I could tell she wasn't really interested, so I turned back around. That's when it suddenly struck me, that this woman, or any of the people surrounding me, could live on my street, could live a few houses over, and I have no idea who they are.  

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