Monday, October 1, 2012

Lisa Brock's Voice

Dear Mitt Romney, 
I am one of your 47% but not for any of the reasons you say or infer in your latest gaffe. But your remarks are so appalling, I feel an obligation to enlighten you - if you can hear me at all.

I am voting for Obama because as the second child born to a poor mother who was completely unable to raise the first 4 of her 5 children, we were taken into the care of the State of Tennessee when I was about 4 years old. Previously, I had been looked after by a slew of a village including the black women in the projects who eventually ratted her out as well as my Great Grandmother's 'help' who were also, of course, black. As my Great Grandmother used to say, 'We're good to our blacks and we don't want you to mistreat them' so it was indeed a world of extremes. But there is little doubt that as my right and wrong side of the tracks family tried to teach my mother some tough love, we children would have surely suffered without the help or the child welfare system - as broken as it was. I was not treated well at times and was separated from my younger siblings too. I worried about all of us and to compensate, I became the 'good girl' and took careful note of the behavior of those around me. I accepted the gifts from the local church ladies at the various holiday times while in & out of care, and I cooked much of the food that was so freely given too. 

At the tender age of 10, my mother remarried and we were returned to the care of her and her new pedophile husband. The suffering took on new hues of unimaginable terror and fear for four young girls. But again, I survived - with the help of a whole new village in Florida. Neighbors, teachers, and the parents of friends made sure I had the things I needed to fit in and the tools of the 'leadership' mantle I had taken up. I knew it was still a veiled form of charity and I worked some kind of job constantly since I was 14 because fear was a powerful motivator for me. In college I survived on odd jobs, working up to 50 hours a week while somehow managing to keep my grades at a reasonable level and graduating on time. I didn't have parents to borrow from. I paid my own sorority dues, earned scholarships, and took out loans. I kept watching how other people created success, and I became even more acquainted with hard work & entrepreneurship teaching swimming, running errands for the wealthy 'haves' in my college town while working all kinds of other jobs. I was never afraid of hard work.

I never forgot the kindness of others and I promised myself that one day, I'd re-pay over and over all the 'charity' I was the lucky recipient of. I have made good on that promise to myself and I can easily recall others who were poor who struggled with me and for me. Others like them are likely in your 47% too.

There is no doubt, abuse in the system, and I share your desire that we all become self sufficient. But children do not have that choice or that voice in decisions being made for them. You dishonored me and them and you cause a layer of shame that is already very difficult to overcome. 

Today I am far from the place where I was born, literally and figuratively. I am in a percentage that is at the top of the proverbial food chain. I earned it through hard work and a little luck - and some charity along the way. There are all kinds of ails that are born from a life of poverty but somehow, I was the beneficiary of those who were dependent on the 'system' of welfare. It is not too far a stretch to say that they may have even saved my life. 

I'd have much more respect for you if you just owned your wealth & status. Like me, you cannot help what you were born into. But I learned a long time ago that it is important to embrace all there is about who you are - the good, bad, and indifferent. But I cannot stand someone trying to, as my Great Grandmother would say, 'pull the wool over my eyes' and sadly, that is how I feel about who you are.

I am proud to have Barack Obama represent me as my President and as an American. He is, like I am, the American Dream. We made it. On our own. By working hard and not giving up or in. With no disrespect to the obvious hardships of health you have endured with your family, our lessons are different and for a country like ours, mine may be more relevant.  

Very seriously,

Lisa Brock 

Lisa Brock is a public relations and marketing professional with more than 34 years of varied experience. Currently she is the principal of Brock Communications, a full-service public relations and marketing firm based in Tampa, Florida. In Tampa, Brock currently serves on the board of Frameworks, which promotes the subject and teaching of Social and Emotional Learning, and is a former Chair of the Board of Directors, for The Spring of Tampa Bay, Florida’s busiest domestic violence shelter.