|Campti Community Center|
There were once several options for manufacturing jobs in the area, but they've been disappearing for years, along with a once-robust tourism industry around nearby Black Lake, where many of my relatives and childhood friends still live. The Great Recession and the recent natural disasters have only hastened a decades-long decline in the whole area. People who could move from Campti itself to other opportunities have done so, shuttering their homes and businesses in the process. Today, the town is mostly black and voted for Hillary, but the very white nearby rural settlements and the largely white Parish seat voted for Trump, angry at the decline in their surroundings and way of life and also, perhaps, at voters whom they see exacerbating the problem by taking up too many taxpayer dollars.
Needless to say, a lot of people in Campti, black and white, rely on SNAP (aka Food Stamps) to help feed themselves and their families. Paul Ryan has introduced a plan to make drastic cuts to this Federal program, and I don't see any reason it won't pass the Republican Congress and get signed by Trump.
This Ryan/Trump initiative will hurt Campti more than it will hurt most places. It's too rural to have a network of charities or many municipal resources to pick up the slack left by a Federal departure. The Parish doesn't care. The State often makes it a point not to care.
Today, following the lead of my friend Paul Bradshaw, I'm participating in #GivingTuesday, a play on #BlackFriday, #CyberMonday, etc, but with giving instead of consuming. And I'm giving to two places: 1) Campti Soup Kitchen, and 2) The Helping Hands Store at Creston Baptist Church (where I attended as a boy!).
The reasoning behind these two gifts is both practical and symbolic; practical because Creston Baptist Church is white, while Campti Soup Kitchen is in a mostly black community, and symbolic because the coming cuts to SNAP will hurt both communities, perhaps in equal measure.
As the GOP shrinks the Federal safety net, we're all going to have to dig a little deeper and give a little more. Maybe a lot more. Dare I think that maybe this isn't such a bad thing? But dare I guess who will be doing most of that giving?
As part of this action, I'm going to be challenging specific friends and family members, Trump supporters, to put their money where their mouths are and start giving to the charities they always said would replace the Government.