Monday, September 24, 2018

A mother and veteran speaks out on poverty and a better future for kids

MI PPC note: Ms DuPree shared this story at a community meeting in Ypsilanti and later gave us permission to post it here.

Hello, my name is Krystle DuPree. I am a black single mother and a Veteran ... both a DPS and Eastern Michigan University alum, now a Graduate Student at The University of Michigan. I cannot help but thank God for my blessings. I recognize it is only his mercy that allows me to tell my story. I hope to do so in a way that employs sincere thought and consideration.
As My story is merely one of about 4.1 million residents within the state of Michigan who are living at or below the poverty line. Over half of us are Black or Latinx.
My family and I became routine residents at shelter after shelter. Public housing and, just so you know slum lords usually offer the cheapest rent. As time progressed school was truly a place of refuge.  Although the schools I attended were gravely underfunded, they proved to be an essential layer of resilience before and after I left home and became an emancipated juvenile. Through choir I found my voice, through dance I found my rhythm, and through poetry I bore my soul. Throughout my senior year, I was blessed to have peers with caring parents who let me sleep in their homes and helped me feel as close to an “average” teenager as I could. I was “adopted” by the community; they helped me to see the uniqueness in my reality and the beauty in its imperfection.
After high school, thanks to the lingering effects of redlining and budding gentrification, underemployment took me out of my community like many people. Only to be deflated by the reality of layoffs vs rent. Once the likelihood of homelessness began to linger yet another time, I reached out to an old friend. We talked about his choice to join the Army. At the time I was devoutly apolitical, and the choice to wear a uniform initially, felt like an assault on my soul. Yet as time progressed I had recognized the same thing that many my peers had. For me this was the only valuable option for educational advancement and upward mobility. In indentured servitude or the Army, I found the pseudo sense of stability, I had been seeking. All I had to sacrifice was my mental stability. Almost like flipping a switch in attempt to ignore the gender bias and supremacy.
Leaving, was also like entering a world of unknowns. Unknown possibilities yet also unknown barriers as I began to navigate single motherhood, divorce, the Veterans Administration and my education. The bottom began to shake until it fell out. Yet by then I had made my way to Washtenaw Community College and fortunately met councilors, teachers and peers who again adopted me and motivated me to keep moving forward. This is how people help each other. There is nothing wrong with my work ethic, my story is not a tale of laziness and entitlement. It is the story of many who wake up every day and do what they have to, to make things happen.
In this nation the value of humanity has an asterisk and the fine print reads, “ There is a complexion for progression. If you are affluent  you are influential. If you are impoverished, you are invisible.” Every day we wake up to a society whose moral fabric is swiftly and steadily eroding, just as our roads and the pipes that carry our tap water. We have so called leaders condescendingly imitate empathy by offering, food boxes and less than affordable fair housing. This is not The American Dream but an American Reality, a ghoulish nightmare where slavery exist on plantations behind barbed wire yet some folk think we still need more policing in black and latinx communities. Where black men are six times more likely to be incarcerated.
I fear the world that is awaiting my beautiful, sweet and wise son.
I fear what will happen to my Cousin, his name is Deonte Newsome. He is 20yrs old and he is in jail on false charges. Awaiting his second trial on the 27th of this month. We cannot afford to stand idly by and allow our elected representatives to continue to fail at representing us. The speakers that came to you today shared their stories of dedication to the tenants of this campaign as we stand against, systemic racism, poverty, ecological destruction, The War Economy and Militarism. Recognizing their interconnectedness, we see that we cannot address one issue with fighting them all.
We stand together to uplift this nation and build communities that are adequately equipped to foster mental and physical well-being. A place where healthcare is universal, where housing and water is affordable, where people can live without fear of the law or fear of their neighbor.  Where the roads aren’t crumbling and pipelines aren’t destroying our mother earth. Where I don’t have to go broke on child care, and my son can be guaranteed a quality education no matter where his school is located. Now is the time, it the time to flip the narrative and fire those who aren’t doing their job. Which is to work for us, November is coming. It time for us to send some folks home. Move forward together not one step back. As you think over the stories that have been shared today and the work that still needs to be done think about how you can join in on that work and help to cultivate a better future for our kids, through creating a better Nation.