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Thank you Vikki Kratz for "Homeward Bound" (3/3/06). I hope that the story of Shamika and her children will help open Madisonians' eyes to the problem of homelessness in our city and the numerous challenges faced by homeless families.
Fortunately, Shamika is now involved with the Second Chance Apartment Project, a program of the Interfaith Hospitality Network and the YWCA. This option was available because an area congregation, Madison Christian Communities, is sponsoring Shamika's apartment and providing mentoring for her and her family.
Unfortunately, many homeless families do not have this opportunity. Though there are some excellent programs providing affordable, transitional, and supportive housing options, the demand continues to exceed the supply. Meanwhile, funding for the programs poor families rely on to secure the resources needed to get ahead economically suffer from an ever-shrinking pot of funding. Even the basic safety-net resources such as our county-funded shelter system and the Welfare to Work (W2) program regularly turn away desperate families as resources become more and more scarce.
Since the article was published, I have been hearing from people who did realize there were homeless families with children living in Madison. Others have commented that they did not realize that shelter time was limited or that one must wait months for an initial W2 payment.
As a community, we cannot turn a blind eye to our most needy families. We should work together to ensure that no child in Madison must sleep in a car or on the street. Meeting one's basic needs should be a right, not a privilege.
Second Chance Apartment
I am outraged. Lisa Subeck offers nothing but excuses for these poor, black, single mothers. She says "white privilege still exists." I beg to differ.
Where was my white privilege when I knew at the age of 14 I had better find a job to pay for my own hygiene products? Where was my white privilege when I worked three jobs while putting myself through college? Where was my white privilege that I didn't even have a grandmother to fall back on? Where were my white privileges when my kids were babies, and I had to buy them toys and pay rent? None of this was given to us.
Where are my white privileges when I am not allowed to make such casual, life-changing decisions/mistakes as Shamika did and ask that everyone else feel sorry for me and pay for them?
My suggestions for what Shamika should have done differently:
Been responsible for sexual protection to avoid becoming pregnant the first time.
Made nice with Grandma after recognizing her mistake, and asking for forgiveness.
Learned from her mistakes and not gotten pregnant out of wedlock the second time because, after all, she would still have her job at Swiss Colony.
Write the world one big fat, formal THANK YOU note for giving to her and her sons.
Please quit writing these horrible, sorry-for-nothing stories. Your time would be better spent writing about people who are in bad situations not of their own doing and who need help.
The nice thing about "patriarchy" and "white privilege" is that with such handy scapegoats, women and blacks don't need to accept any responsibility for what happens to them. This is evident in your story "Going Home."
While it is true that there is still too much prejudice and discrimination against blacks and women, blacks and women are also victims of self-inflicted wounds.
These wounds include the high level of single-parent families, almost all women-headed. It is hard enough for low-income two-parent families to make it. In your story, the woman bore a second child while destitute. This is not responsible behavior.
Roy U. Schenk
Ruth Conniff raises an important point when she says "The world needs liberal, secular values now more than ever" ("Those Old-Time Liberal Values," 3/3/06). In today's world of Islamic jihad and rising Christian fundamentalism, this couldn't be truer.
However, she also exposes the false alternative offered by today's intellectuals and one of the reasons that religion has been able to maintain its stranglehold on morality. In response to the absolute commandments-from-God approach, liberals present the alternative as rejecting all absolutes. We are asked to choose between making moral judgments based on religious dogma, and giving up moral judgments altogether.
We are offered the alternative of multiculturalism, diversity, tolerance, open-mindedness, sensitivity, anti-discrimination and pluralism. Although these are offered as secular values, they are actually the rejection of values. Valuing requires evaluation, discrimination, intolerance, absolutism and adherence to principle.
To hold something as a value means to aggressively defend and protect that value while rejecting and condemning its opposite.
If freedom is a value, one should not tolerate those who want to destroy it. If individual rights are a value, one should not appease those who are against rights. If respect for individual autonomy is a value, one should support cultures that promote this value and condemn cultures that do not. If reason is a value, one should not sanction the irrational by being "sensitive" to those who demand respect for religious prohibitions on cartoon content.
Today, the absence of secular values has reached the point where even freedom of speech - once a strong secular value - has few defenders. Instead, our intellectuals tell us to be open-minded, colleges shut down speakers and condemn student newspapers that publish "offensive" material, and the U.N. debates speech codes, all in the name of being "sensitive" to those who hold values antithetical to freedom.
Fortunately, strong secular values are possible, and we need only look to the legacy of America to see their power. Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death" exemplifies the type of moral conviction that was typical of the Founding Fathers. Their uncompromising adherence to values and willingness to defend those values as inviolate is what made America possible.
I agree with columnist Steve Braunginn that credit unions do a wonderful job of taking risks to reward the community ("Predatory Lenders Should Be Barred From Wisconsin," 3/31/06). I wish more people took advantage of the financial education they offer.
As for the victim of the payday loan and the court action she's facing, I'm no attorney, but if she can prove her case, it'll be the easiest small-claims win I've seen.