The Cross I Decided to Carry

 

I grew up poor.

When I was a kid my Dad would work rotten teeth out of his mouth with pliers and razor blades. Sounds lame right?

Turns out you can get your teeth pulled at dental school for 30 bucks.

Believe it or not, this is common among poor people.

You’re the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with. And if most of the people you spend time with say that college is for white people and that the blacks have tails; well then that’s the world you live in. And it’s not until you meet someone that challenges your perceptions do you begin to lift the veil.

My family has grown up and changed a lot. We’ve been through some rainy and sunny days. And looking at it now I can say we’ve been blessed. As a result, I understand the importance of giving back.

Shortly after joining Texas Victory Project I was asked: “why was I volunteering for Texas Victory Project and what was the issue I cared about the most”.

It’s very simple.

For me, Texas Victory Project represents the working class and everyday people whose voices are undermined and suppressed. Since the Southern Strategy and the birth and rise of “grassroots conservatism” the Koch brothers, Roger Stone, and the heads of the “New Right”, have poured billions of dollars into politics, mislead voters, and have increased the burden on working and middle-class families while cutting taxes to themselves and their corporate buddies.

Acting in the shadows;  they have taken over our universities under Austrian Economics and free-market principles, our media by calling conservative blogs Breitbart News & The Daily Wire, and good Republican politicians who have forgotten the lessons taught by Christ in the New Testament and now worship the pillars of Ayn Rand & ALEC.

There are more poor people now than there were 30 years ago.

We did bail out the big banks to preserve the global economy. It’s honestly kind of annoying. Around that same time, I was working 2 jobs. In the mornings I worked at a daycare and in the evenings as a busboy. It sucked. I was tired. My body hurt. I hated everyone. Of all ages. But honestly, I don’t remember complaining about having to be at work.

My parent’s divorced and their taxes with the other person’s name on it was kind of a lot for them. So without my parent’s returns, I couldn’t even finish a FAFSA application let alone apply for loans or scholarships. So I busted my ass and saved money for school. I weighed 115 on a fat day and at some point while I was lugging 50 lbs bus tubs up and down 3 flights of stairs I tripped off some steps and broke some bone in my foot. I didn’t say anything to my bosses because I didn’t want to look weak.

Besides what difference did it make. I was always in pain. So I hobbled around for the next few months and I worked through it. Now I walk funny. I’m actually really pissed that I didn’t make an incident report.

Anyways. Point is I worked hard and never complained. That is what my mother taught me. Soldier up and drive on.

And at 19 I really had no idea as to why the President & Congress bailed the banks out.  Or even what that really meant. But I knew they got free money. I knew it was billions. And I knew I was hurt and frustrated.

I mean there I was destroying my body for a paycheck. And then these guys were just getting

billions of dollars in welfare?

“Whatever. Must be nice to be too rich to fail while”. End of story for me at the time. Swear to God. That’s all I really thought.

It wasn’t until way later that I learned we did that to keep the global economy afloat. Because here in the states we have that much money. That the whole world’s economy depends on the stability of ours. It was shitty. But Geithner and the gang had to make some tough calls.

A traditional free market approach as prescribed by the Michael Jackson of Right Wing Economics, Alan Greenspan would have called for the government to keep their hands out of the marketplace and just let the whole world plunge into fiscal darkness and let everyone work it out from the ground up. But even he later came forward and admitted that keeping marketplace unregulated was a mistake. Tee-hee.

Fast forward to today and we’re having the same conversations. And somehow either the Republican Party hasn’t learned or doesn’t want to learn.

Texas Victory Project's values and policy initiatives are strides in the right direction.

As a society we must place a higher emphasis on demanding fair wages, providing more loan relief for educators to attract top talent into public schools, and reforming the justice system ( where in 4 years The Texas Department of Criminal Justice spends more money keeping non-violent marijuana consuming citizens incarcerated at a cost that exceeds the price of a 4 year degree.)

I’ve just met too many bright people who've lost employment opportunities and hope for a brighter future over a dime bag.

Legalize it. Regulate it. Tax it. Get that money out of the hands of the cartels. And into the hands of our policy makers, our entrepreneurially spirited, and into the hands of the people.

Some would say that those who work in low wage positions deserve to be there. And that these low wages should be incentives for folks to seek workforce training and transition out of the jobs that pay them so little. Essentially these people are poor because they haven't put in the work to lift themselves out of the rut. But statements like these completely disregard the complex pervasive ways poverty has taken a toll on our vulnerable communities.

Honestly, it’s hard to find good people to lift us up.

Rather than empower their workforce, I’ve seen employers instill fear into their staff over the uncertainty of the job market. And then dressed their corporation up as a soothing house of stability and warmth. But wrapped up in the niceties was the well-known fact that the busy season was soon to end. And hours were going to be cut drastically.

When I think about all the hard workers I’ve met over the years that have been spit on by the same institutions they’ve kept afloat. When I think about all of the injustices going on in our country it makes me want to give up. Buy a plane ticket and leave.

Too many times I’ve seen wrongs gone on and held my tongue.

Too many times I’ve kept quiet while giants boomed loud overhead.

But Texas is my home. And these are my people. So no more running.


On the other end of the spectrum, liberal elites are not in tune to the growing pains of the working poor. They have neglected poor white voters and have placed their bets on identity politics and issues that don’t help our seniors pay for their medicine and rent, higher wages and loan forgiveness for our youth, and criminal justice reform that have disproportionately destroyed the lives of many poor and people of color.

Election after election hundreds of people donate their time and money to these campaigns & they keep on losing. This is why I’m taking action and ask you to do the same. We need to stop treating our voters like ex-boyfriends who only call after 3:00 AM while listening to Drake wanting to “chill”.

We need to treat every voter, despite color, religion, and creed with respect and instead of “talking at them”, listen. Listen to their story, their struggle, and their reality. You can spend all the money you want in polling but no poll will tell you the Truth or allow you to build that human connection that is so needed in politics.

It’s time to act.

 
Cris Boneta