Excuse me are you listening? 6-3

Dear Readers,

     As I write this, I am beginning my fourth day of fasting.  Fasting?  Yes, fasting.   I am eating rice, unsalted nuts, beans, fruits, vegetables, 100% juice and water.  I had spinach for breakfast so that I would not break my fast. Visions of bacon, sausage and ham with two eggs easy over medium just like I like them, danced through my head.  
     It has been an interesting experience so far.   I sometimes feel weak and other times I feel strong.  My mind seems to be clearer.  I feel as though I have a vision.  I feel as though I need to give my readers more to work with as I have done in this issue. 
    I feel as though there are problems that are not going to be discussed unless The New Citizens Press does.  Excuse me; there is no real ghetto here in Lansing.  Everything is based on how much money you make!!!  Our subsidized housing contains people of all races and backgrounds.  They all have one vote though.  I want to encourage them to use it.
    The leaders of the Black or African-American community are quickly turning into people who can be bought out or sold out.  Step up and start acting right.  Pastors should not accept money from a politician unless it is done in good faith.  Receiving money from politicians should not be to bribe people into doing things. 
    I recently had someone who works in a politician’s office tell me "We made you".  I could hardly contain myself as my mind searched for any value he had given to the success of my newspaper.  Umm, $15.00 for a fundraiser and a plaque.  I was irate because I know that it is the normal people who make this newspaper not the politicians or their puppets.  I could have let him walk away but there were two people sitting there.
    I wonder how some people think that they can get away with abusing people mentally.  Not here.  Been there done that.  If you can go to work and be a boss or help someone else, try helping yourself out for once.  Make concrete decisions that will help you succeed.
    If you think I am talking to you, pull yourself out of the sand, dust yourself off and start make making sandcastles. 
    My beautiful people of Lansing, what are we going to do?  I am going into my fifth year, can you stand to hear the truth even though it hurts.  We are a fractured people and the media can be bought off as well.  I suffer the consequences of not being a ‘tool’, advertisements being pulled, long stares that say "you did not print a story about how great I am", when you are really not.
    I give you what I have.  I want to see people learn and not the ones who are constantly pushing themselves to the forefront.  I have so much stored in my head I could write for weeks and months about the issues that I think plague this particular community.
    I visited Trinity A.M.E., 3500 W Holmes Rd., in Lansing a few weeks ago.  I heard about this dynamic preacher from Bloomington, IL named Rev. Nathan Dixon and that he was interested in empowering the community.  I had to go see for myself.  I just so happened to visit a week prior to Lent, which is a 40-day period of prayer, forgiveness and fasting.  It is about personal sacrifice.
     As Pastor Dixon preached, I found myself shaking my head in agreement.  He had me so fired up that I decided that I was going to fast along with his congregation for Lent.  They are fasting for 41 days. I on the other hand only chose to do it for a week. As I stated earlier I have been doing this for 4 days and I have lost 4 pounds.  So I am only 127 pounds so I do not think my first time fasting should be for over a week.  I haven’t had coffee, meat dairy products or sugar.  Someone said that I would not be able to finish which is why I will.
     Trinity is the oldest African American church in the city.  I have visited many churches in the area but Trinity has a distinct history.  The original services were held in a building on North Washington Avenue.  Reverend Mr. Henderson of the British Methodist Episcopal Church formally organized in 1866 and it was first called the Independent Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1875 it was reorganized as Bethel A.M.E. Church. In 1902, upon the death of the Reverend George R. Collins, the pastor for many years, the church was renamed the George R. Collins A.M.E. Church. It was incorporated in 1906. The church received its present name, Trinity A.M.E. Church, in 1964.
     You know I love to give facts and make everything a learning experience.  On another note, I am so hungry right now I could eat a horse. 
     I wanted to see if I could give up the pleasure of tender beef tips piled on top of a creamy dollop of garlic mashed potatoes or a juicy medium well hamburger.  And it would have been a juicy medium well hamburger with cheddar cheese and two slices of pickles.  And the bun would be toasted with a little bit of mayonnaise and ketchup.
    Umm, just thinking about it makes me wonder why I agreed to fast along with a congregation that I had only visited once.  It made me think about the time when I could not afford to make a hamburger like I mentioned because the cheese went on bread for another day, the mayonnaise went into the tuna fish and ketchup was a condiment to be used sparingly.  Pickles, forget it!!!  Pickles were a delicacy for me when I was going through hard times.  Paper towels were rinsed and hung to dry for a second use.
    I remember the joy in being able to order a Domino’s pizza, with pepperoni and sausage.  Back then; it was like going to a fine restaurant for me.  Some of you have made it through hard times too.   
   I have been reflecting on hard times during this period.  I wonder, how many of us behave in manner that is wasteful?  How many of us have been sold out or bought out.  How come we don’t stand out?  Or even stand up?
     I am concerned about the plight of the homeless.  I just heard my stomach rumble and I had unsalted peanuts and collard greens.   The other day, I was riding down Saginaw by Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.  and saw a woman picking through the Salvation Army box.  There were clothes all over the snow and it was freezing.  I rolled the window down and asked her what she was doing and she was trying to find some more clothes to keep warm with.  She also asked me for help getting a motel room, I said no. 
     I thought about the homeless shelter that just opened around the corner from my house.  I don’t believe that it is full.  I thought about the Volunteers of America and what would happen if I ever became a widow and homeless.  The shelter may not be there.  If it is there, I would not be able to sleep with my 14-year-old boy; he would have to go to the men’s shelter.  That would expose him to things that I don’t even want to talk about.
     Wake up!!!  You could be in the same situation in no time.  Try being without a job for two months.  Most adults do not have the resources to shake off a major tragedy without creating major bills.  Then you refinance and find out the cost of refinancing was far greater than you ever imagined because you don’t know how to budget.  How many people do you know that teeter on the edge of poverty every two weeks?
      We are not talking about poor people or the working class poor; we are talking about the middle class.  We are talking about the individuals who have been working at General Motors for 24 years only to find out the auto industry is failing and they do not have any other skills.  We are talking about the people who are not counted in the homeless population because they are sleeping at a relative’s house, their belongings in storage.
     Storage???  I remember a time when there was no such thing as storage.  You moved everything, sold it or gave it away.
     Take the time.  I challenge you all to visit a local shelter.  It is not filled with alcoholics or drug addicts.  There are veterans, the mentally challenged, the monetarily challenged, the educationally challenged… and you may be next if we don’t provide adequate housing.  I am also assuming in the political mind: no address, no voting privileges.  You might want to think twice about why someone would not want to educate and protect the homeless population.
      Some of our elected officials have been pretty close to being homeless as well at one point in time.  Just the fear of not having security leaves you hopeless. 
      If you think that not paying attention is going to work, it isn’t.  My mentor asked me what I wanted to see the newspaper do.  I told her that I wanted to educate people and keep them informed.  She told me to do a better job at it.  She told me to do more to affect change and that if anyone could do it, I could. 
      I gave her a laundry list of reasons as to why I was not taking it to that next level.  She basically told me that she did not care what I was doing or how busy I was.  She said that I had a responsibility to bring to light the issues that I complain to her about.  I was shedding tears of joy that someone finally said something to me.  It is all about educating. 
      I understand now.  I am counting on you to provide me with strength and encouragement.  Look for some interesting developments in our, your and my world.


Rina Risper