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Laphonza Butler

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The Debt Ceiling vs. the Job Ceiling in South LA: Lift Both Now

Posted: 07/27/11 01:44 PM ET

As President Obama and Congress take positions over debt ceiling negotiations and continue their awkward dance of bipartisanship, real people in various communities throughout the nation suffer the consequences of continued inaction. The real ceiling is in South Los Angeles, where the lack of jobs continues to hurt our communities with the continued overall rise in unemployment. In Los Angeles County alone, African American unemployment is at 19%, while unemployment for Latinos is at 14%.

We all know someone who has lost their job, lost their unemployment benefits, lost their healthcare and has lost their home due to foreclosure. We all know someone who is doing everything they can to put food on the table, to provide for their children and who, every pay period, tries to stretch out a paycheck to its maximum capacity. All the while, Washington continues to play party politics over issues that impact us locally at a much grander scale. Well, it's time that we all say enough is enough. And focus.

Now, there are some who have called South Los Angeles a community hidden underneath the 110 Freeway. Vehicles roar pass each day as they commute to and from the harbor and downtown. There are no real reasons why anyone would exit anywhere from Slauson Avenue to Manchester Avenue, there are no jobs, there are no resources, schools are closing, unemployment continues to rise, and families are being thrown out of their homes. Above everything else, our elected officials seem to have forgotten that they are our representatives. We are their bosses, not the other way around.

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It's time to take a stand and tell like it is. Folks need jobs. Good Jobs. The debate should not be about the debt ceiling, but about the hope ceiling. In just a few short days, Congress will return to their districts for what is known as the "August Recess" -- a time where our representatives come home and host numerous town hall meetings to get our perspective on issues with the intention of taking our comments back to Washington.

This August recess, we have to let our voices be heard. We have to show up to those meetings and we have to demand Good Jobs for South LA. We have the strength to ensure our representatives remember that above everything else, they took an oath to safeguard our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We just have to use those muscles and flex a little.

It is an outrage that attempts to protect tax cuts for the rich are being made on the backs of working families. And it is un-American that the continued cuts to services for the poor and the unrelenting marginalization of working families are affecting African Americans and Latinos disproportionally.

Brothers and sisters, this August recess, we need to take a stand, let our voices be heard and ensure that our vision for quality jobs, access to healthcare and excellence in education for South LA are at the forefront of policy debates. From Crenshaw to Pennsylvania Ave. From our block to the White House.

In neighborhoods all across our community, hardworking families brace each day with hope, resiliency and a belly wrenching desire to succeed. We stand with you in that struggle and celebrate the contributions of working people. At our core, we believe that working families have a right to live their lives with dignity, respect and with a sense of community.

This August recess is our chance to set the agenda. Let's do it together.