Say a Prayer for Fall River

By Marc Dion

October 22, 2018 4 min read

In Fall River, Massachusetts, the red brick and gray granite perpetually poor city of 90,000 where I live, the mayor is under indictment on 13 separate federal counts of wire fraud and filing misleading tax returns. The mayor's name is Jasiel Correia II, a 26 year-old chipmunk-faced fellow with a very nice wardrobe and an apartment over a bar. People are calling on him to resign, but he is staying in office where he can draw a hysterically inflated salary of $120,000 a year. In addition, he can use the rapidly dwindling power of his office to solicit contributions to an internet-based legal defense fund. We understand this well in Fall River, where people frequently start GoFundMe pages to cover the funeral of an overdosed relative.

In cities where there is a Gucci store and an art museum, this kind of thing barely slows the gentrification of former ghettos, and it would never stop the building of a new seaport convention center.

In Fall River, where the most successful member of your family is an $18-an-hour elementary school janitor, it plunges us into a hole of despair, especially as the story pops up in the national press.

We are, by God, poor, most of us. We are magnificently careless in the matter of getting an education past high school, although the city's women are at least open to the idea of taking the course to be a certified nurses assistant, a career path leading directly to diapered elderly people, and $14 an hour.

This does not mean we want to be laughed at by people reading the paper in Sandusky, Ohio. About that, we are as touchy as a Harley owner who has just been reminded that his beloved "bike" is not a completely American-made product.

Touchy, we small city folk are, particularly when we have a lot to be touchy about.

Providence, Rhode Island, a city maybe 25 minutes from us, 15 if you're involved in a police pursuit, had Buddy Cianci, the infamous "thug mayor" who did jail time for racketeering, and emerged to become a talk show host. Thank God he had an Italian last name, so at least his greasy little career could be dressed up in the pizza-and-pistols mystique of the old Cosa Nostra.

Our mayor is Cape Verdean. Cape Verde is an island off Africa, a former Portuguese colony, and a relic of the days when European white men left their sperm all over the world and brought home slaves. Scratch the surface of Fall River, and, if you scratch deep enough, you'll find some act of terror from the 1600s. We have Haitians here and Brazilians.

We are forever seduced and abandoned, like Gary, Indiana, or Steubenville, Ohio. The cotton mills left in 1929. The garment factories that replaced them left in the 1970s. We drive past the rain-dripping hulks of old granite mills that look like huge gray elephants.

We are one of the forgotten places, one of the places where the interstate seems designed to get you past us at 60 miles an hour, so you won't have to carry the sight of our poverty with you on your Cape Cod vacation.

We are a reliable source of young bodies for America's military. Our best go to college and only come back for funerals. Our politicians tell us we are "tough" and "resilient" and "hardworking," and we've had to be, in part because of those same politicians.

If you have read about our indicted mayor, save us a thought for our embarrassment. It happens all the time, but no, we're not used to it, not at all.

To find out more about Marc Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, a rather angry meditation on the rise of Pres. Donald Trump, is available in paperback from Amazon.com, and for Nook, iBooks, Kindle and GooglePlay.

Photo credit: at Pixabay

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