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Getting Out to Recession

Hard Times in America

New America Media, Commentary and Video, Words: Eric Phillips // Video: Cliff Parker Posted: Apr 01, 2008

Editor's Note: Upon getting out of prison a young man is confronted with the reality of a failing economy through the struggles of his family, the first in a series of pieces looking at the effect the recession is having on Americans. Eric Phillips is an associate of The Beat Within, Cliff Parker is director of video production at New America Media.

SAN FRANCISCO -- When I got out of jail, it wasnt long before I realized I was fresh meat feeling the heat waves of a struggling economy sweating through a recession.

I was relieved when I received word that my sister would pick me up from prison but when she told me I ran out of gas on my way up to get you. Its so hard out here -- I cant keep gas in my gas tank. Bush has screwed up everything, That was my first clue something was up.

[ Quicktime 6 or later ]

Last night at the dinner table my cousin told me: For the middle class its called recession but for the poor its called depression. Since I've been out I see households being turned in for shelters and hard honest working sweat is being replaced by more blood in these struggling streets.

Born to parents strung out on drugs, I was blessed to be raised under my grandfathers household, but poverty was a penny too short to cure his cancer and as of the beginning of 2007 death stole his life.

I only can wonder if my grandfather actually a victim of this recession. Has the war took so much of an effect on our economy that hospitals are no longer equipped to save the lives of our sick? Or has the price of medication got some people waiting a week too long to purchase their own lives in the form of a pill?

In the fight for my life he gave me $20,000 for a lawyer. Sometimes I wonder, Was he giving his life to save my life? He was military man with a world of responsibility on his shoulders called his family. He risked his life to serve his country, its sad to know a return back to his ghetto was his reward.

A man of 7 children, 4 strung out on drugs, and 16 grandchildren, I never understood what he meant when he used to say I dont know what you all going to do when Im gone? until now. Hard times has forced his children to sell his home and now projects are where we reside.

I couldnt help but to ask my uncle Why would you sell a house your father has bled to get? I felt cheated when he told me: Things are hard out here. Our daddy left that home for us all. Im getting my share out of that property before theres nothing to get. I guess, at the end of the day, the recession is robbing us all.

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