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Sunday, February 12, 2017

My Meeting with Mayor Stothert: A Fair Deal for Low-Income Single Mothers in North Omaha or a Raw One? You Decide!

"As-Salaam-Alaikum" ("Peace be unto you")

My Meeting with Mayor Stothert: A Fair Deal for Low-Income Single Mothers in North Omaha or a Raw One? You Decide!

I was truly enthusiastic about my invitation to be my dad, Bilal Nosilla's plus one to go to a private luncheon to meet with Mayor Jean Stothert on Friday, February 10, 2017 at Fair Deal Café in North Omaha, Nebraska. My excitement was more about spending time with my dad and finally getting to eat at Fair Deal Café than it was to meet the mayor. Now, before everyone gets started and trying to jump down my throat about this being an opportunity of a lifetime, you must understand that spending time with my dad is more important to me than meeting any public official or even a star. Hecks if Chris Brown walked into a restaurant and I was eating some good ole soul food... Chris Brown better keep it moving or Soulja Boy will not be the only one he would be fighting in the boxing ring in Vegas.

As I patiently waited for my catfish, greens with turkey pieces and mac & cheese lunch, a conversation ensued about future developments of North Omaha; specifically the empty lots between 24th and Lake Streets going towards the corner of 24th and Ames Streets. My dad asked the Mayor what was her plans for the development of North Omaha. Stothert expressed that companies like Creighton are interested in purchasing these empty lots to provide jobs for our community. I thought to myself, “What are they going to do with the people that consider these lots as their “stomping grounds?” You know the local vagabonds of our community who are a part of 24th Street’s colorful charm and history. What is going to happen to them and what jobs is she talking about?”

I apologize, I guess I should have mentioned beforehand that my attention was in and out of the progressing conversation because I was thinking: “hey, where is my food. I am getting hungry?” As I caught myself getting more and more impatient… and hungrier… I heard Mayor Stothert proudly state that the types of jobs that Creighton wants to bring to our community are medical jobs. As I listened to her speak more about how these jobs consisting of sterilizing medical equipment and instruments would assist in the members of MY community in providing for our families, something woke up in me. Yes, my food came… looking and smelling good, but that is not the point I am trying to make!

After I sanitized my hands and began to eat, I zeroed in on the conversation transpiring before me as if I was the member of the audience watching a television's shows plotline unfold right in front on me. The more I listened, the more concerned I became for the wellbeing of the members of my North Omaha community. After about ten more minutes or so of this conversation, I politely asked the Mayor to please explain how these new jobs in the medical field are going to help me as a low-income, single mother who is raising five children?

My Response to the Mayor

She again began to use her political jargon to explain how these new land developments would provide jobs for my community and once again I respectfully asked: “And what is that supposed to mean to me and people like me?” Looking stunned, she asked me to elaborate. So I did. I told the Mayor that due to the fact ALLAH (GOD) has blessed me to be born into a family that strongly promoted education and fortunately education played a significant part in my life,.. It is a part of my legacy that I have passed on to my children. I do understand about how development can bring jobs into a community. Now, I may fit into many negative statistical data, research charts: Muslim, Black, female, low-income, single mother of five and so on. Can we please add educated in there somewhere and sexy? Just saying! However, back to the topic at hand... I continued to state that a high number of the people in this neighborhood are low-income and are working from paycheck to paycheck and the jobs that she is speaking about, they would need to have some of educational background to work in the medical field.

My thinking is: if these members of my community had the time and the resources to get a quality education, would we really need these jobs that you are trying to promote by saying that it will provide jobs for our community. How are we going to obtain these jobs when we have no formal training or education? Than Mayor Stothert explained that they would provide job training for these future positions. Which lead me to ask again, “but how is that helping us?”

What About the Low-Income Single Mothers?

In my mind, it is more like they will be helping Creighton and the other companies make more money off the Black community, but how is this going to assist the people in my community? You are giving them training for a job, but is this going to be a career or training that can elevate them to other positions outside of Creighton? Will these jobs come with health benefits? Think about it: why should they give up their Medicaid benefits for themselves for a job without benefits? What will the hiring process be? Are they going to accept the low-income, single mothers within my community who have felonies, but paid their debt to society? What about them?

What about the single mother who has to work a “dead end job” to put food on her table and does not desire to work in the medical field? The mother who was made by DHHS to hurry up and get that "dead end job" or they were going to lose their benefits. What about her? Still not quite understanding what I was saying… you know politicians, they only hear and know their own agendas… Mayor Stothert asked me, “What would be your solution?” I simply stated what my educational and professional goals are.

ejnosillA's Goals & Dreams for North Omaha

I want to open a holistic community center that caters to low-income single mothers. It would provide them essential educational and tangible resources that would empower them and assist them in becoming self-sufficient. I explained to the mayor that I too was receiving benefits from DHHS and my experiences were degrading and I was stereotyped because I was Black, poor and single mother. I felt that I had to jump through hoops just to get the little assistance that I received.... Now, I must be fair... yes, it was a little bit of money, but a little piece of money beats no money coming in the household at all! But, it simply was not enough... I caught myself robbing "Peter to pay Paul"every month! 

Also, I feel that the system was organized for mothers like me to feel as if we are less than because we needed assistance by the ones who jobs were supposed to assist us. So that is why as a low-income, single mother of five, I decided to go back to college and obtain my Associates, Bachelors and Masters Degrees. I want to provide these resources without all of the hassles and discriminations; to be a part of the solution and not a part of the problems. I continued to explain that I live in this area and I understand my community’s struggle. Can somebody explain to me why people who are not really in the daily struggle of “the hood” in North Omaha always seem to know what is best for the people who actually are surviving in this area?

North Omaha is a Strong Community 

After, I told Mayor Stothert about my goals and mentioned again that I am pursuing these goals as a single mother of five… I am sure, if you have been paying attention that I have mentioned this previously and now my food is cold… she got really excited and impressed... as if this was the first time she heard me say: "Single Mother of Five."  All of sudden the Minister that was at the luncheon who invited my dad to the luncheon and was engaged in this conversation the whole time, stated that he would like to organize something for me to come speak and give my point a view as a single mother living in North Omaha. I eloquently explained to the Mayor and the Minister that I truly appreciated the offer, but what I was trying to convey to her is this: she would need to figure out how these developments will realistically and positively benefit the North Omaha community and not the companies that want to develop it. These future projects cannot be about what one thinks we need in the North Omaha community, but be more about what we have expressed as a community! We need resources, NOT HANDOUTS from these companies that want to use us to their financial benefits! Give us the resources we need so we can invest in our own North Omaha communities! Just Saying!

I will keep you posted if anything develops.


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