Not everyday in December is a festive one. A young mother who was waiting for a child care voucher at a public assistance office for more than four hours, was essentially assaulted, humiliated and sent to Rikers Island prison for sitting on the floor. You can pick up your chin now. Jazmine Headley found herself in a Brooklyn governmental office trying to get help managing daycare for her one-year-old. Let’s start with the obscene amount daycare costs in this country and work our way towards the end of this vile story. Daycare, even the most charitable of church related services can cost over two hundred dollars a week for a child still in diapers. A person who makes just above the poverty line in New York (and many other cities in the US), will only qualify for a child care voucher if they’re working a full-time job. All I know is my husband and I both worked a full-time job and I can remember finally being able to breath a sigh of relief when my mom took over watching my daughter.
As if being at a public assistance office is not humbling enough, like typical New York bureaucratic agencies, it’s filled with people who work there but don’t really give a shit; desensitized workers who get off on a little bit of power they don’t have in their real lives and a bunch of exhausted people who are just waiting to have their number called. It’s the DMV and Passport offices rolled up into one. No one wants to be there. I’m sorry if you’re offended, but having grown up in New York City entitles me to spill the tea on every horrible experience I have had while trying to get some sort of federal or state service. My take is, this is a customer service position. If you’re not good at or don’t want to be nice then don’t work somewhere you have to deal with people. I’m sure someone sitting in the waiting room would love your position.
Secondly, why would there ever be a place where workers don’t make sure women with children and the elderly have seats? Poor Jazmine was standing for four hours with a baby, and you’re trying to tell me everyone there had more of a right to a seat than her? I saw plenty of men recording on their phones as Jazmine clutched her baby for dear life, as she was manhandled and abused, did not even one of them offer her a seat? Hey security guard who doesn’t even deserve his pathetic position to protect people, why didn’t you help find her a seat instead of yelling at her when she sat of the floor (with a baby) after pure the exhaustion of standing for four hours? This is a public office, not a Russian gulag. This security guard, a grown man had to call the police because he could not deal with an irate mother by offering her a chair? Oh, I see, the point is to make it so miserable in this office, you will hopefully leave without your handout.
Why are we so quick in this day and age to call the police over every little thing? It’s bad enough we have BBQ Becky, Permit Patty, Starbucks and a slew of other incidents of fill in the blank while Black. Now we’re identifying with our aggressors? Calling the police on ourselves? When did we lose the ability to communicate with one another? Where did chivalry go and who made it shameful to be poor? If a woman is working a forty hour or more aweek job and cannot provide food and shelter for her child, then shame on us. Life is not easy.Your typical teacher or retail worker cannot just run out and buy a house, pay for daycare, buy a new car or live life without counting every penny. Those days are over.
Lastly, as a mom, I’m sick and tired of watching people struggle, even those that make a decent wage can barely make it with the rising costs of healthcare, food, and other necessities. Tampons are over nine dollars a box, toilet paper is over six, and don’t get me started on the drugs people need to survive that they can’t afford. Instead of helping people, your hard earned tax money sent a young mother to the worst prison on the planet for sitting on the floor. And yes, she may have gotten snarky with the security officer but after four hours the best of us would be out for blood. Rapists, and school shooters have been given more respect than this woman. We’re on a path to towards deterioration as a society. Thoughts? Comments?