Thursday, March 1, 2012

Why I Support Tanya McDowell, Mother Jailed for Falsifying Address, Even Though She Sold Drugs

During the last two days, I have taken flak from some friends for denouncing the injustice of the jail sentence for Tanya McDowell, the Connecticut mother who was convicted of falsifying her address to get her child into a better school. She was a bad candidate for "martyrdom" they told me, because she had a history of selling drugs, which also contributed to the length of her sentence.

But while Tanya McDowell may not be your preferred symbol of working class virtue, she remains a wonderful symbol of racial and economic inequality in the United States and the difficult choices working class people have to make in an economy which not only has high unemployment, but fewer and fewer jobs that pay a living wage

Let me pose the question to you. If you were homeless and desperate, wouldn't you consider forging your address to try to get your child into a better school, and selling drugs to make sure your child had enough to eat? If there were enough good schools around so that any school you chose would be acceptable, and if there were enough decent paying jobs to keep your head above water through legal work, that would be one thing. But what if NEITHER of those things were true. What are you supposed to do? Let your child go hungry to a terrible school.

And if you think children don't go hungry to school in this country, think again. I have been at schools in the Bronx where children start crying on Friday because the only times they are guaranteed eating decently is when they are at school and have heard about similar dynamics in Eastern Long Island.

As far as I am concerned, I would rather Tanya McDowell sell drugs to make sure her child eats, than have her child go hungry,and rather her forge her address to get into a good school rather than languish in a terrible one.

In this country, at this time, whether you want to recognize it or not, huge numbers of working class people have to live outside the law just to live barely over subsistence.And as long as they do so without causing violence to others, that's alright with me

I know I shouldn't say this. But I just have.

We are sowing exactly what we reaped when we let corporations destroy unions and move most of the decent paying blue collar jobs abroad

And this presents impossible choices to the millions of Tanya McDowell's in our country

March 1, 2012

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