I recently attended a writing group near my home. I wanted to meet some new people who are gifted in writing, who also share my involuntary desire to tip-toe and tap dance on my computer keyboard, for long periods of time.
It was a great meeting, and I believe I was recruited on a board for a poetry contest for youth. One woman approached me, she knew that my husband and I were long-term homeless and met each other during our individual homelessness.
The one horrible myth about the homeless is that we are uneducated, incapable, unskilled hopeless people who cannot rise above our financial turmoil to live whole, stable and healed lives.
The woman who approached me at the meeting made a statement and asked a question very close to exactly the following:
Wow, it’s amazing to me that you were able to have so many business skills, and speak so articulately, to know business and present yourself the way that you do. How were you able to do that?
In her mind, she had on a business suit, her hair was in perfect place, there were light, a video camera, a microphone and a producer screaming action! I mean, she looked so confident in her ignorance that I was stunned. Yes, me! I was stunned. I’m usually prepared for all questions, but I was so busy trying to figure out my answer based on the intention of her question.
As I replayed the moment in my head I tried to calculate the second between her facial expressions to see whether she was serious and ignorant or serious and trying to be intentionally disrespectful as to say that I did not belong there.
It was the former of course. Her question came from a good place but it was off kilter. My response to her was something almost exactly like this:
I have always had business skills. Being homeless has nothing to do with whether one is educated or articulate. I have been a business owner and entrepreneur for many years. I was first published at 12 for my writing. In fact, I was in business and did not have working capital. This is when I became homeless. I lost everything. And financial crisis does not determine a person’s intellect or abilities. This is one reason why I focus on supporting the homeless in overcoming the barriers that keep them homeless.
This is one reason why people continue to look down on the homeless, because they don’t realize that financial crisis on top of the barriers that can suspend their own efforts to rise above their circumstances, are what keep people homeless.
There are a few people in Hollywood that I’d like to introduce to you thanks to Yahoo, who know what it’s like to sleep on a park bench, or in a car as child or adult. These people did not become literate all of a sudden. They already had gifts and abilities, they just had to get a handle on life.
If people get past this one myth, we can have deeper conversations about ending homelessness. My husband and I know the answer to end homelessness, but I’m not sure that the world is ready for the truth, especially those who believe that homeless people are somehow less than they are, as if God has a scale on the worth or value on humanity.
Here are a few folks who were homeless and have won Oscars. Thank you Yahoo, for posting this article. For the actual article, click here.
Ressurrection Graves is a child sexual abuse expert, and H.E.A.L.E.R. She is available for radio, television and speaking engagements surrounding child sexual abuse and adult homelessness. Please check out her speaking page HERE for contact information, or email: ressurrection dot wordpress at yahoo dot com.