Saturday, March 6, 2010
I work alone on Saturdays. Me and the 56 men who live here. Creating a community built on shared stories, shared experiences, shared music, helping one another fight to stay connected to our humanity. There is a musician who lives here. He has traveled the world playing some of the best jazz music ever heard. He has taught music at three major universities in the United States and one more in Italy. This guy is no joke. He just left my office after telling me "My j-o-b is j-o-y. People paid me to just be me." Now he's living here...in "supportive" housing and he can't get the DSHS office to reinstate his measly $339 a month and some food stamps. His doctor sent the papers 2 days late and he got cut off, in January. So, he's living on absolutely nothing. He said to me (and I'm going to quote) "They pulled the rug out from under me and thought 'he's just another nigga...no one will notice.' But I notice. Because I'm still me." He's still him. He's still tall. He's still a great musician although age and several strokes has changed some things for him. He moves smoothly like air curving around an obstacle. He moves slowly and has a light in his eyes that comes from some music playing deep in his soul that accompanies him. His voice is deep with a timbre that touches the deepest parts of the ears that hear it. As I type this, I'm listening to one of his CD's. Music made by this incredible man. If you saw him, you'd think he was just some random homeless guy downtown with a beer in his hand. You would judge him based on what he appears to be today. You likely wouldn't take the time to get to know him. You might even be one of those people who saw an over 6 foot tall Black man wearing less than clean clothes obviously down on his luck and cross the street so you didn't even have to get close to him. You'd be doing him a favor because anyone who would do that doesn't deserve the pleasure and blessing of being impacted by this man. He asked me "Are you my advocate?" To which I responded "Yes, Sir." I have called DSHS daily to inquire about his "review of benefits". They tell me the same thing they tell him "We've got everything we need." Well, he doesn't. He doesn't even have close to what he needs nor a miniscule amount of what he deserves. So, this man tells me to try using this sentence next time I call: "I'm going to shove my foot so far up your ass you're going to have to open your mouth for me to untie my shoe".I'm going to use it. And probably on more people than just the DSHS office in Belltown!
Posted by Stephanie at 11:49 AM