No Fools Allowed

August 16, 2012

I interrupt this, otherwise Love-filled blog, to express a political rant that has been burdening me for quite some time.

I am a community organizer. I organize communities around THEIR healthcare related issues and concerns. We have been dealing with issues of Medicaid Spend Down, Formularies and LIA Waiver Request from the (DSS) Deparment of Social Services (if you actually read those links, wow! and thank you).

In Connecticut, Medicaid is also known as Husky. There are four types of Husky Programs: A, B, C and D. In order for you to qualify to receive Medicaid Part D (also known as LIA or Low-Income Adult) your MONTHLY income CANNOT exceed more than $512.05 in the Greater Hartford Area (click here for qualification guidelines).

A few months ago, the Department of Social Services requested a waiver (mentioned above) to the federal government asking to withdraw a particular group of people from Husky D. Connecticut legislators wrote to the Commissioner concerned with that fact that Husky D recipients are infact the most vulnerable of Medicaid recipients (read letter from CT Legislators).

A public hearing took place in July 2012 where EVERYONE testified in favor of denying the waiver. At the public hearing, questions asked by legislators often left the commissioner and his staff answering, “We don’t know.”

The department claims there would be a a savings of $50 million. There no proof of this figure or how they even came up with it, ANYWHERE.

But this is what the GOVERNOR wants to balance the budget. This is where he believes we need to cut to save his budget. And legislators (who are up for reelection in November) decided not to reconvene to cast a vote (A-la-Pontius-Pilate) and “appear neutral” to the needs of their constituents.

When our governor appointed Commissioner Bremby in March 2011 he said ,”I’ve said over and over that we will not cut the safety net -and DSS and their partners are a lifeline for people in crisis.” How lucky are you Governor Malloy, that three out of every four Hartford residents has literacy problems.

A message to Connecticut Legislators (urban and suburban alike), at what point did you stop listening to the people? Did you know that you are not a pawn of the governor but in fact a PUBLIC SERVANT?

I have studied politics. I have taught state and local government classes. I am organizing communities. Tell me please, how do I inspire a community to remain active and involved in the process to create change when YOU void their effort and fight by simply remaining idle?

It is clear that everyone was against this waiver and still you took no action. It is clear that this waiver will help no one and create a greater debt in emergency room visits, medication non-adherence and possibly death.

These people are the most vulnerable among the vulnerable and you dismiss them without as much as casting a vote. It makes you spineless. Your actions speak louder than any campaign flyer you will send in the mail.

Mark Twain said, “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

The truth is, I wrote this for my community. Not for you. You clearly don’t care. You are just a politician. But unfortunately, most of my community won’t ever read this. Hell, most of them don’t even care to vote. I can’t blame them anymore. What for? You’re all cut from the same cloth.

I will not forget. I will make sure everyone I talk to knows about this and the countless other things you do for political gain and comfort. It may not make as much as a dent in the outcome of your bought-and-paid-for-campaigns. But I ain’t no fool and I’ll be damned if my community is made into one.

open letter to campaign x

December 5, 2011

dear campaign (fill in the one of your choice there are hundreds to choose from),

please, under no circumstance, mistake organizing with campaigning.

organizing is when you gather a people, have THEM identify the issues, provide the tools necessary so that they may advocate for themselves and they LEAD the way to systemic change created from within.

campaigning already has a set agenda and you invite others because you NEED them to meet your goals.

did you catch the difference? (i hope you do. i mean, you and all your law degrees and political jargon and your corporate behavior dressed in non-profit should see it clearly).

the former starts from its people, works with its people, and then its people create the change they wish to see. the latter, well, just wants to move a personal agenda and when it realizes it doesn’t have “enough people,” they scramble to find tokens in a jar of spare Blacks, Latinos, Queers, women, low-income people… throw us a t-shirt and some event, catered by who else but us… and expect us to join or even more baffling, fight for… what YOU want.

well, shit… have you stopped to look at your campaign from the perspective of the tokens in your jar? have you taken the time to really look in your jar? i mean, honestly… stop looking at people like they’re just people. it makes you insensitive, shallow, and disconnected. plain and simple. take the mutha’ fucking time to really learn a people. go with intent. sit and have a cup of coffee with someone you might never sit with. learn their struggle. see if you can taste it. learn what moves them to continue in light of their struggles. try to have a genuine human connection that tugs at your heart.

…but you won’t.

you’ll keep pushing your campaign based on political strategies created by the same people you claim to be fighting against. in the end, you might win… ’cause money, well… money is money.

and conversely, in the end… you will not have changed anything. because the system remains the blueprint for legislative oppression created by the oppressor.

but please, do me at least one favor… don’t call it a movement if it ain’t moving.

sincerely,

Sarahí Y. Almonte

reflection: connection

November 15, 2011

this past weekend was perhaps one of the most amazing weekends of my life.

my saturday started with a workshop that i was facilitating.  i’ve been giving a series of workshops at work for the past three months.  the relationships that have developed from these are absolutely beautiful. connecting with people that i would otherwise not have the opportunity to meet and getting to know them, their struggles, their stories and how they continue to move forward is uplifting and has allowed me to view my own struggles and grow stronger because of each of them.

lesson learned: we grow stronger in our collective struggles.

i headed to boston, to visit my sister, meet up with an old love who is visiting from DR  and then get together with new friends.

time with my sister is always a great time. i consider her one of the funniest people in my life. when i am with her my cheeks and abdomen hurt after just one hour. she has beautiful energy. she has a way to make me feel at peace.

lesson learned: her smile makes me feel at home.

i drove, nervously to her.  i didn’t know what to expect when i saw her. my heart was racing a faster as i got closer to our meeting place. i saw her. we hugged for what seemed to be hours. i felt no anger. no fear. no resentment. the only thing i could feel was our love: tender and true. her arms, her scent and her love wrapped around me like caribbean sun on palm trees.

lesson learned: undoubtedly, where true Love exist, regardless of what took place, the moment you come together, the only thing you feel is all that was beautiful about the relationship.

i headed to meet up with some friends. and with them i went to another place where i met an absolutely amazing group of new friends. it is inspiring to meet people and instantly connect. their energies, their spirits, their laughter… you’d think we all knew each other for years. our conversations went from intense to nonsense. we laughed so hard, inhalers had to come out. there were counseling sessions in the kitchen and dance-offs in the living room. games that taught us a little more about each other and had us talking about the next time we’d come together.

lesson learned: spiritual connections are still taking place.

the weekend just kept bringing me back to connections: lifelong ones, old ones and new ones.

when connections are made in their most honest form, we are guaranteed a lifetime of spiritual energy and renewal.

reflection: tired

October 5, 2011

“i am tired of fighting,” posted a friend on her page.  and i knew exactly what she was feeling. i mean, we truly are “scratchin’ and surviving” ….each. damn. day.

sometimes we are fighting (exerting valued energy) for things that in this day and age, we should NOT be fighting for. some examples include: housing, healthcare, food… you know, the basic necessities for a human being to survive.

and we fight. and fight. for crumbs. and then we fight each other for the crumbs thrown at us. it is literally exhausting.

we try to organize communities only to be met, not by apathy but by exhaustion. the “fight” has been legislated out of them. they believe in nothing and no one because years of advancement can time travel right back with the cast of a vote or the swinging of a wallet.

hell. fucking. yes. you have a right to be exhausted. tired. fed up. and ’bout ready to catch one. ’cause this shit sucks.

but that’s just it. that’s what the powers that be want… for us to just lie down and call it quits. they would love to see is throw in the towel. raise the red flag.

what i’d like to throw is my exhaustion. and i will not raise a red flag when my hand has taken the form of a fist. they are more afraid than we are because they know the power we have. they know, that if we would come together we would be undefeated. they know our collective numbers would crash the market of their egos.

we, together, are the sum of their greatest fear.

so yes, be tired. be exhausted. and then muster all the energy of a fighter who knows that the battle is hardest right before you emerge victorious.

 

~Sarahí Yajaira, 2011