My Great Recession: Being a Poor Mama During This Economic Downturn

By Guest Columnist Jun 02, 2009

We put out a call for stories from young people of color about how people are surviving this recession. After a brief hiatus, “My Great Recession” continues with this submission by Queennandi Xsheba. Want to contribute? It will also go on the "Race & Recession" report page at Send your 300-word first person accounts, visual art, or video blogs to submissions [at] colorlines [dot] com. By Queennandi Xsheba, a POOR Magazine Race and Poverty Scholar My supervisor at my job told me that the survival of me and my children depended on my job. She went on about the difficulty for folks to get and keep jobs because of the current economic situation. She knows that I’m a poor mama, so she takes my poverty and uses it against me. She was ordering me to do the impossible: the laundry for two whole shelters without help within 48 hours. I would have to do two 12 hour shifts for this to work when I normally do 8 hours. When I told her this, she said, “Figure it out. Do whatever you have to do but I’m not giving you any overtime.” I let HR know that my boss was disrespecting me. I wrote a letter of complaint to HR and a letter of intent requesting a promised promotion and a chance to get out from underneath her abusive authority. It was then that my supervisor began to retaliate. She tripled my work load, denied me keys to the bathroom and rooms I was supposed to clean, disallowed me to attend the staff retreat. I like to work. I really do. But this current situation is giving bosses an excuse to threaten and abuse their working poor workers.. They can crush me whenever they want and get away with it. There are several other coworkers that feel the way that I do but they feel intimidated. The average mother would do anything for their kids. How can they drag my kids into the equation to try and get me to do a better job? Of course I will work harder with my demise of my family on my mind. My daughters worry about me, seeing the tiredness and stress on my face. I try to tell them that mama has got to work because it’s just me taking care of them. My nine-year old told me to get a job with POOR because that’s where I am treated right. I smiled in my head, thinking I wish we had the budget to hire me. Queenandi is a race and poverty scholar at POOR Magazine and a member of the welfareQUEENS, a revolutionary group of mamaz, daughters and sons creating art, performance and poetry on issues of poverty impacting poor parents in the US. Queenandi and the welfareQUEENS will be presenting at the Revolutionary Change Session on Philanthropy in June.