Rome News-Tribune

How is your mom?

- Willie Mae Samuel is a playwright, founder and director of the African American Connection of the Performing Arts Inc. and a 2020 Heart of the Community Award recipient. She can be contacted at artsnow201­9@gmail. com.

Here’s the thing: If you had worked all of your adult life and found yourself living in the rural section of the U.S., separated from the main population of the country, and there is no one who can come to your rescue but your government, you too would be looking to the government to give assistance.

With his infrastruc­ture plan, the President is reaching out, saying our plan of building back better includes the whole of society. The “How is your mom?” kind of concern. We are so accustomed to thinking only of the physical roads, bridges, streets and things made of stuff that we do not consider humans as an area of the American structure in need of repair.

COVID-19 pointed out that area of weakness to us. What group began dying the fastest? Our seniors and the weak individual­s in nursing homes were impacted first and impacted the hardest. It shone the light on people of color who had no health care, and who work on jobs with no healthcare plan. The Covid-19 light shone on Native Americans, who are still being denied fresh water as well as medical services. That is why we can say that the pandemic served as a mirror for us to see ourselves clearly.

Our seniors, our children, our oppressed, our underserve­d, our less educated, our sick must be considered a part of the infrastruc­ture of this country. We are supposed to be the most educated well-informed people in the world and yet we do not see human developmen­t as a part of what must be built back better. Something has caused our minds to get narrow or we have become more tunnel visioned.

Many people do not consider broadband service a part of infrastruc­ture. If the individual lived in a rural area, he or she would be shouting HELP! Many people in my area cannot connect with the internet. Those of us who can have weak connectivi­ty. Our children have fallen behind because the connection is unavailabl­e. Many families cannot have acceptable telephone communicat­ion because we lack towers. Many people thought that when the companies stopped using the commercial “Can you hear me now?” that meant we were all able to be heard. Not so.

I still have neighbors whom I can only communicat­e with by text messages, or the oldfashion­ed way of driving or walking to the house or place of business. If we have Zoom meetings, we are apt to be dropped up to 10 times in 60 minutes or less. Many families with children who have to do homework online see them falling behind because of the lack of broadband/ DSL service. Many children go to a business or a neighbor’s house to complete homework or just to do research. Life is not so simple for some of us. How is your mom?

Many are probably saying that there are tools to be purchased for that problem, but those people give no considerat­ion to income. Every family cannot afford an extra $100 to $200 a month just to communicat­e by phone or internet. Many businesses purchased tablets for children, to help out with schoolwork, but did not realize tha,t without internet service, the tablets are just a tool to hold. It is like trying to use a flashlight with no batteries. That was a generous gift and should be appreciate­d, but more must be done and it has to be a group effort.

Many school districts cannot afford to purchase tablets for all of the children who need them and, even if they could, the internet service would be too expensive. This has to be done in every county in every state. What local agency is in position to tackle that task? The federal government has to help with that project and locals must do their best to help as well.

It ceases to amaze me how people who are well off financiall­y seem to believe that poor people can do more with money than any group I know. Many were saying that the $2,000 given last year was going to make them rich. Are people not aware that it takes just as much money to buy food, housing and clothing for the oppressed as it does for the upper class? In reality it may cost more, because of the location of the stores at which the oppressed must shop. Just because a store is placed in the neighborho­od that does not mean the price is neighborho­od friendly. The rich and famous must ask that group “How is your mom?

The point is that building our infrastruc­ture is a very complex dilemma, and we must step up to the plate now or our country will be forever lost in the dust of other countries. We must come out from behind the walls of lies, denial and ignorance and take measures to do our part. The health of a country or a people is not just about how strong the houses and roads and bridges are but how healthy and strong the people who will be operating in or on them.

One should not cut off his nose to spite his face. Support the infrastruc­ture proposal for the others who need it. Look around beyond your circle to see that people are still saying “Can you hear me now,” even if you have been able to stop asking the question.

After President Joe Biden’s address on Wednesday, as he was fellowship­ping he made sure to ask different individual­s “How is your mom?” We all need to ask other people about things that are important to them, even if we do not have a connection or real concern.

 ??  ?? Samuel

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