Tuesday, September 04, 2007

racism. sexism. & religion.

first = racism.

after now, officially, one month of unemployment, jake and i decided to bite the bullet and apply for medicaid and food stamps. not a big deal for us. we need health insurance. after one year of having our medical needs catered for over-seas where an appointment & prescriptions can cost a total of $10 - together, we know that being uninsured in the US is not a wise choice.

food stamps = wasn't truly on our radar. in fact - in all reality, we don't need it. yet, we are unemployed, often cooking and baking food for others (which we're not going to stop doing). food costs money - although very little money if you know where to go for the good stuff. it was at Pedro's suggestion that we apply, although according to the food stamp calculator - together we're eligible for a grand total of $70 a month. he assured us that we can get off of it as fast as we got on them. with the experience of applying, processing and having the ability to jump through some of the same hoops i often encourage others to jump through - we decided to go for it.

food stamps & medicaid. we completed the initial 10 page application (extremely simple to complete with only two members of the household who have no children, other household dependents, others forms of income, etc.) and this morning with optomism in my heart we jumped on our bikes at 8:10am to submit our requests and set up an appointment with a social worker (ahh. the idea of sitting on the other side of the desk). with the knowledge that it is post holiday with the first business day of the month, i had an intuitive feeling that it may be packed. and it was. jake sat outside with our bikes as i ventured inside. once inside a white handsome male asked me what i was there for, looked at me strangly when i told him, and pointed me into a long line in the waiting room for giraffes (hot! & humid!). yet, when i looked at the sign at the end of the line it said "appointments with case manager." since i was the last one in line i decided to check and confirm that i was indeed in the right line for submitting our application. instead of the cute, ear-pierced white security guard - a beautiful, actually, black woman was in his place. i apologized for interrupting (she was thinking - i think) and asked her what line i needed to be in to submit our application. she told me that they do not accept new applicants after 8:30am (it was 8:40am) and that we needed to get there in the morning at around 7:00am to get in line "like everyone else."

i had suspicions of her statement, but every organization has it's quirks and in the city of chicago i can see that this may be true. for social workers can only process so many applicants per day. there has to be a daily cut-off. yet, i pondered on our way home her statement, "like everyone else."

as we pulled up to our street our friend Eddie was sitting outside watching the construction crew tare up our sidewalks to help our backed-up sewer breathe. He asked where we had been and jake shared with him where we were and what happened. Eddie's response, "you were just the wrong color."

He continued, "play it by their game once, but if it happens again, go to the people over them. I don't think that what they told you was right."

tomorrow morning we'll see if the game is still in session.

now = sexism

*** graphic words contained in the following segment ***

last night we watched the movie "North Country," a movie about the first class-action law suit against sexual harassment. good. so good.

it made me wonder though, are there any women out there who have NOT been sexually harassed? Are there any women who have not yet encountered the gross disgust of men who get their kicks and giggles from sexually harassing women.

i have shared with jake, and now i'll share with you = there are three vivid moments i will not forget, in which i was the victim of sexual harassment. there was the time when i was serving and a cook looked at me and called me a "c**t" among other various and less than creative names.

then there was the christmas shopping season of 2003. preparing for gift giving i was pacing the mall, stopping by stores who presented to have enticing bargins, like those JC Penny "one time only half off" sales - that are held every couple months. yeah - those sales.

i had entered into American Eagle to prowse their clearance racks and spotted a couple of items that i thought my sisters would enjoy. since we are all relatively the same size i thought i would try them on to see how they would look and deem them worthy of purchase or not. packed dressing rooms proved to be the case and no attendant was on duty - only locked doors with potential AE victims inside and me (along with the 50+ some other shoppers in this small manipulative closet). i looked around and no rooms seemed to be available except one!

weary and cautious, since it was only a crack open i glanced below: no feet. i knocked: no answer. i opened.

inside was a naked man. a naked man perched on top of the corner shelf for purses or wallets, jeans or tops. a naked man getting his kicks from unsuspecting victims such as myself.

i wish i could say i was bold enough to confront the staff or even the mall security, but i wasn't.

i slammed the door shut as hard as i could, threw the possible purchases on the chair outside the dressing rooms and ran. i ran out of the store. out of the mall. out to my car. i ran.

four weeks ago my parents, jake and i were moving in. it was/is such a joyous time. to celebrate we dined at the local polish buffet and gorged ourselves in perogies, bacon wrapped this and that, apple and potato pancakes.

with full tummies and a heavy legs we decided to walk it off and see around the Polish Village. Our first stop: a small shop going out of business. good deals! my dad got a coffee maker for $10. us - cleaning supplies, paper plates for painting, toilet paper and a could latch-key tools. but there was so much to explore! the shop was a mess! everything was everywhere and there were corners abundant to explore! so that is exactly what i did - explore! i moved clothes racks, climbed over boxes and shelves, dug my way through masses of "stuff." i was not alone though.

a man i had seen perched outside of the polish buffet was following me back. i was aware. i wasn't in any danger - the store really wasn't that big. but i knew he was a creep and i was aware. it wasn't too long after i had given him "the glance" that he pulled out of his pocket an imitation of a penis. he looked at me, giggled it around, set it down next to me and left.

i gave him a look that made me sick to my stomach and stood there. i didn't tell me parents. i didn't even tell jake until a couple days later. i still have to wonder though, if i - i, jessica kathleen, am a victim of these three simple sexual harassments, how many other women encounter it on a daily basis, on a much deeper and consistent basis, and tell no one.

it's shameful for me to a degree i think. i'm not sure why, for "they" are the ones to be shamed. still... how many of us have experiences such as these and don't talk about it or stand up against it but flee from it, like me.

and for the grand finale = religion.

as you may have been able to pick up from previous posts - it's been a difficult time here. spiritual battles. emotional battles. mental battles. whatever.

but still - to my amazement (yes, i should have stopped being amazed at God years ago - but I can't seem to shake it) God has continued to be faithful. so faithful.

He has shared with me that I am not faithful nor willing.
i'm learning again.

He has shared with me that I am no longer free.
i'm learning again.

He has also shared with me this: "Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen." - 1 Peter 5:5-11

i opened my Bible for the first time in months. i'm sorry to all of those who thought i was better than that. i'm not.

and this is what he sent into my these eyes of dirty and avoidant flesh.

This passage has spoke more to me than what's simply stated in bold. yet, this is the promise He has given me to hold onto as jake and i continue to try and live.

it will only last a little while.

He will restore.
make us strong.

p.s. i had to interrupt this writing because some new kids just came and rang our doorbell (thanks Dad DeBoni). they played. i walked them home and just spent the last 1 1/2 hours talking with them, their family, a new girl i met and Eddie. God is growing and Jake's having left-overs for dinner tonight.


Rebecca said...

Hey Jessica
It's a shame that you are so far away - seems so close!
love, Rebecca***

Anonymous said...

loving you, your thoughts and your friendship...how did it go today? Beth

cory said...

hey, umm. sorry. i empathize. racism, sexism & religion... check. check. check.

let me just say that your sanity and clear eyes are a big help to me see that while i slog my way through this swamp, there are really pretty flowers about and tremendously valuable fellow swamp dwellers.

so thanks.

Robin said...

Hey Jessica,

I remember your horror when the American Eagle incident first happened - what a messed up world.

We all (not just you)have so much to learn - I know I do. I realize afresh mistakes and sins I have committed and know that I've made God sad by choices I've made and that hurts, BUT HE still loves and forgives me and encourages me to go on in HIS power. I know my power is lame. I still don't know how I'm going to change to become who HE wants me to be - pray for me and I'll pray for you...

Love ya bunches,


Kate said...

Hey, thanks for being so honest about your struggles...it really ministered to me in huge ways. I struggle in some of the same ways, and I regret I'm not more honest with myself and others about that. And thanks for sharing about your sexual harassment experiences...I have some too, and I don't think I've really ever told anyone. I always run, too. Or laugh nervously a lot of the time, because it is, unfortunately, most always from coworkers. Jess, wanna be brave with me about this from now on...?

Anonymous said...

Hi Jessica and Jake,
It was such a pleasure to spend some time with you and your parents at the Cracker Barrel recently. I have been looking for messages on your web site and there has been none recently. Just hoping all is O.K.

Let the world know that you are safe and in good hands.
Love Ya,
Larry and Sue