Monday, November 29, 2010

"How you doin' today, Sister?"

I don't know why I feel compelled to blog about this, but it affected me very deeply. On a lunch trip to a local resturaunt yesterday I saw a woman sitting on the sidewalk. She was dressed in old clothes and had what looked like a blanket and a backpack. "How you doin' today, Sister?" she asked. I knew the routine, she was going to ask me if I had a dollar and hold out her hand. I've met this woman before, but I'm not sure if she remembered me. Maybe she did. Maybe she remembered that I've given her money before and thats why she asked me again. In all honesty, I'm usually very suspicious of people who ask for money. Unsure of their intentions, I usually try to give them food or water. So I asked her if I could get her anything in the resturaunt and she said "A large diet Pepsi." So after I ordered and picked up my food I got her a drink and a bag of chips. When I walked outside I handed her the cup and for a brief moment our hands touched. Her skin was dry and I could see her skin was blotchy. She had a contemporary version of the Bible. Maybe its because I'm a very empathatic person bordering on the extreme. Maybe it's because I'm about to start my period. But after this moment that I CONNECTED with this woman it hit me. It was if I had felt this woman's pain with her. Had experienced the same grief and loss she had. It wasn't a flash of images or anything. I didn't see clips of the movie Precious (based on the novel Push by Sapphire). And all of a sudden my eyes were watering and I felt this incredible urge to throw up. By the time I had gotten back to my car I was crying. At this point it was uncontrollable. And I wasn't crying for her because she was in a different place in her life than I was. I completely see this woman as my equal. In fact, I could be in her present situation at sometime in my life. And so could you. I don't know why I thought this, but I thought what if this woman had children somewhere? What if she had been abused? What if someone she loved had put her in that spot. I felt bad that all she had was a scared, lonely white girl helping her and the sidewalk.

Before you tell me that I shouldn't feel sorry for her and that she probably put herself in this situation I want to leave you with this:

•61% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.

•There is no city or county anywhere in the United States where a worker making the minimum wage can afford a fair market rate one-bedroom apartment.

•People who are released from hospital, prison, residential institution or leave the armed forces and have not place to live.

•One out of 50—or about 1.5 million—American children are homeless each year.

•Over 92% of homeless mothers have experienced severe physical and/or sexual abuse during their lifetime.

•Among all homeless women, 60% have children under age 18, and 65% of them live with at least one of their children.

•Among all homeless men, 41% have children under age 18, but only 7% live with at least one of their children.

Hope you're having a good day, Sister.

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