The judge looked at me and asked, “Who are you?” I told him I am this man’s pastor, and I am here just helping him to be in the right place at the right time.
Tears welled up in his tough-man eyes, and he said, “They beat my other cat to death. I couldn’t let this one die.”
But sometimes the mountain of failure and shame is just too big, too hard to climb, and the path is impossible to trek alone.
There he was, lying unconscious in a pool of his own blood. I pushed my way through the gathered crowd, caught the eye of one of the cops, and announced, “I know this guy. I have all his information.”
One even felt like an inquisition, in which my answers were to be discussed amongst a group of “elders” who would make a determination to uninvite me from a previously scheduled event.
I didn’t know Melvin when he committed his original crime. I do know that he was twenty-two when he was convicted. How many of us did stupid stuff when we were young adults?
From outside the back door, we heard what sounded like a monster. Deep growling and grunting with intermittent spaces of silence. Jewel looked at me with wide, terrified eyes.
Sometimes we are unaware we are under oppression, until we come up for air. It’s an atmosphere, an energy, a tone of voice, a manner interaction.
He was filthy. Dirt and grime in every orifice. Hair matted in unintended dreadlocks. His clothing reeked of bodily fluids. Immediately it became clear that he has not been taking his medication.
“I’m really glad Trump is now our president, ‘cause he’s gonna put blacks back where they belong and kick every Muslim out of our country. He’s gonna make America great again.”
I have experienced discrimination and oppression as a woman on a daily basis my entire life. I will write more here about these experiences. I’m guessing that many men simply do not know or do not recognize our reality
They taught me that I was to “stay in my role,” that women are naive and easily deceived, and that because of my gender, I was not qualified to teach males over a certain age. *And* they taught me that all of this was God’s will for my life.
“This is my last chance. I don’t even know why the judge gave me another chance. I think God must have a purpose for my life. I’m so grateful for this place and for you ladies. You’re all so beautiful and so strong.” She turns to the other newbie and says to her, “You are included in those here who are beautiful and strong!”
“My daughter died recently, and my three grandchildren have just come to live with me.” I told her she could come and get presents for all three, and that the children can even come next Sunday to get a present for her. She just stood there staring at me.
Another of our homeless men, grabbed my shoulder and said, “Jamie, Valley Brook does not belong to them. It belongs to God.” I cried again.
Some days I cry. Some days I get mad. Zach is one of so many we know who fall through the cracks. There is no place for him.
The “problem” as they laid it out is that I have welcomed what they called “stray cats.” They said that when you feed stray cats, of course they will want to stay around, and they said, “We don’t want them to stay around. We don’t want them in our neighborhood.”
Madame Mayor, members of the Council, thank you for allowing me to speak to you this evening... We have appealed to you repeatedly for meetings, for phone calls, for conversation to try to work out our differences—to seek solutions to your concerns about Joe’s. Not a one of you has called me.
A lady in our Joe’s Community created an opportunity for our regulars to share how Joe’s has been a “helping hand” to them. Here are some of the hands that now cover the front window.
I am writing to address the concerns that some have brought before the City Council regarding the business that I own and operate called Joe’s Addiction, and to ask you to consider not taking action to terminate our business license. If we are doing something illegal, please tell me and we will stop. If we can work together better with the city in some way, we want to do so.