My Great Recession: Economic Downturn? When Was It Ever Up?

By Guest Columnist May 21, 2009

We put out a call for stories from young people of color about how people are surviving this recession. “My Great Recession” continues with this submission by Angel Garcia. Want to contribute? It will also go on the "Race & Recession" report page Send your 300-word first person accounts, visual art, or video blogs to submissions [at] colorlines [dot] com. By Angel Garcia, a Migrant, Disability,/Poverty Scholar in residence at POOR Magazine/PoorNewsNetwork Economic downturn? When was it ever up? I have been dealing with poverty and economics since I was a child in Guatemala. Now as a young adult in this country its even harder for me to find a job, get housing or go to school. It makes me feel empty like a ghost, because I feel I have a lot to offer. I have survived gangs, drugs and migration. I’m not sure how I will survive this. Right now, I feel that the economy is not letting me be able to be who I am, because it’s not allowing me to be independent and show my true qualities to people Another way that the economy is affecting me is that I am currently houseless. Without a job, I have little chance of finding a place to live or afford to pay for it. Recently, I was living in a group home after I got out of jail and it was difficult. I was abused in the group home for three years and finally found the courage to leave that abusive environment. In my work as a poverty scholar in residence at POOR Magazine we are deconstructing the harmful impact of the Non-profit industrial complex on poor youth and families like me, who themselves are bring impacted by budget cuts so they are putting more pressure on their clients to bring in government dollars. Unfortunately, it’s people like me, who are disabled and also the elders who need in-home or live-in care that are being most impacted by this downturn, as it is taken out on us in many ways. Despite the economic downturn, I am not going to give up. I plan to find other ways to make it through. I will use every strategy and tactic possible to make sure that I can get my life back together. Since I won my political asylum four months ago, this has given me an opportunity to restart my life, though it is not going to be easy as the current economic situation is making it harder to access the services and help I need. I also cannot go to school, because of the restrictions and limitations on the rules regarding financial aid with this economic downtown, making it hard to get. This doesn’t allow me to fully pursue my dreams and affirmations as I am very low-income and need the financial support to seek higher education so that I can better my life. I want to earn a degree in counseling youth in communities where gang violence is common. Having my own personal experience in this life, I feel that I have a lot to offer to help change communities, but with this economic situation holding everything back, it’s really hard to go forward right now and it feels like it’s a big rock stopping me from moving ahead. Angel is a migrant and poverty scholar in residence at POOR Magazine’s Race, Poverty , Media Justice Institute. He s the author of Gangs, Drugs and Denial published by POOR Press. He will be co-teaching a unit in poverty studies at the upcoming Revolutionary Change Session on Philanthropy and the NPIC in June.