Black Girls and White Women (Part II)


Black girls, like everybody else, want esteem and authority. They are unprepared to do anything else, so they work as aides and I think they are ashamed of it. Couple that with their eagerness to tell the rest of the world how to behave, and you have a problem. My guess is that with most clients, a black aide flares a couple times and the client becomes silent and subservient. Not me. I do not back down when pushed into confrontation.

My friend who has Medicaid aides is currently working with a young woman who worked—albeit briefly—for me. She is black and she does not have attitude. She also cannot read, cannot write cursive, and doesn’t know how to double ¼. In other words, she cannot cook from a recipe or make up a grocery list. She does not own an alarm clock or a watch and, therefore, never showed up for work on time. This was a problem for me because I actually have a life and make time commitments with other people. My friend is still in thrall to the medical industry and is, therefore, sick all the time and always at home whenever the aide gets around to showing up.

I only see two ways out of this problem. The first is that aides absolutely need to be paid more. They are providing the most basic, necessary services; they are essential. Hamburgers at Burger King are not a necessity; cleaning the black mold out of my toilet is. Taking care of other people should not be a minimum wage job. If all the doctors and all the aides went on strike, who would you miss first and the most? How long has it been since the pay rate for Medicaid aides has been raised? PAY AIDES WHAT THE JOB IS WORTH!

Second, I would make it mandatory to link aides to education. Reconfigure aide work as the first step, not the last step. The medical industry provides a clear ladder from Certified Nurse’s Aide to Licensed Practical Nurse to Registered Nurse to Nurse Practitioner. Link aide work to education. Let the agency pay for the education on the condition that the employee will continue to work as an aide for a period of time. When employees can see that superior performance on a menial job is their way up to a better job, I would expect it to be reflected in a change of attitude.

Finally, I would ask for compassion for the clients. By and large, we are old white women. There comes a time in our lives when we should no longer be challenged to change to accommodate the culture of young black women with whom we have nothing in common. At this times in our lives—old, and too sick to take care of ourselves—we should be allowed to rest in the comfort of the known and familiar. Can you please get me an aide who looks like me?

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
This entry was posted in activism, disability rights, Government Services, Medicaid, Onondaga County, Poverty, Power, Values and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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