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My mother emigrated from India, along with my father, my sister, who was 10 years old, and me; I was 7. When we landed on these shores, we couldn't afford a home, so we lived with my aunt. All four of us crammed into a single room, and lived there for a year (and we are forever grateful to my aunt for that).

We moved up from there. We are not rich, but we are in the middle class and aspiring. We are the "soon-to-haves" that the Republicans are targeting. But, we always vote Democratic, because of the Government helped us when we needed it most, from public education to subsidized housing. This is what the Republicans cannot grasp- that the "soon-to-haves" sometimes need help. And the "always had" can never understand this.

But I digress. My mother lost her job last year. And she will lose her unemployment benefits on Tuesday if Congress doesn't act. I'm writing this diary, because no one in the main stream is talking about unemployment benefits as part of the fiscal deal. It's only ever been about the tax cuts. And when conservatives talk about unemployment benefits, they talk as if those who are are dependent on those benefits are lazy and undeserving.

Well let me tell you about my mother, because I think it's important to change the conversation, and change peoples' views about the unemployed.

Work is a matter of pride for us. She was ashamed to lose her job, and didn't even tell me for days. Frankly, I'm a bit embarrassed to write this diary...

But, my mother deserves help because she works hard. She can't speak English well enough to converse with her co-workers, but she walked into work, put her head down, and worked hard every day. She worked hard, but she lost her job anyway, because her job was outsourced. Now she is trying to switch careers and taking courses using her unemployment benefits, and is studying hard.

My mother deserves help because she is honest and honorable. I've seen many times where my parents could have gotten away with not paying for something because someone made a mistake- it would have been thievery but they would get away with. But they never take advantage of it. If they owe something, they will pay it and they will go out of their way to do it. This pride in their honesty is a part of Hindu culture.

My mother deserves help because she needs it. We don't spend lazily. We made adjustments to our budget. Because my parents can no longer afford their home after my mom lost her job, my dad moved in with me and my mom moved in with my sister. This is a struggle for us, but we are happy to share it with each other. We spend money when we need to invest in our education, but not much more.

My mother deserves help because she sacrificed a lot for her children. My parents forgot their own careers and pride so that their children could study here. My dad could have had a great career in India, but they decided to come here for the sake of our education instead. I still remember helping my dad clean up when he was a clerk in a convenient store. Because of their hard work raising us, both my sister and I are successful. Currently, my sister is an MD, and I am an  MD/PhD student. We don't earn enough, yet, to take care of them, but we only need a couple of years. Then we won't need help.

But right now, we need it. We are the face of the unemployed, who need these benefits. Don't call us lazy or undeserving. It's personally insulting.

And mark my words: just as my sister and I got help from the U.S. Government when we were just tiny worms (c.elegans are worms by the way), soon, we will be ready to help the next generation of worms, who will be poor, and need help, and a quality education. We would be happy to pay our fair share. That's important for our dignity- when we owe something, we pay it back.

Im glad I wrote about this: so many stories are similar. You guys are like family.

Originally posted to coolelegans on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 02:34 PM PST.

Also republished by Invisible People, In Support of Labor and Unions, and Community Spotlight.

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