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Looking Around with Sheri

December 15, 2018

Sheri Coner has graciously given me her expressed permission to share this with you, and I thank her.

Yes, it’s a longer read that you might be used to here.

But it’s provocative in the best sense of that word.

Okay, lemme highlight some of what she wrote and then get out of her way — 

In high school, I remember that special education classes were segregated.. at the end of a long corridor… right next to a door I frequently sneaked out when I skipped school… meaning that no one was ever down there who didn’t “belong” there… and that stuck with me… especially because I made it my business to befriend some of the kids in those classes… and I must say they were much kinder than the majority of the kids at the other end of the school.

When I was blessed with the opportunity to go to college, I chose to study people… because even though my heart was to write and make a difference in that manner, the school counselor told my family that was not an appropriate field for a young woman… so I fell into the “nurse or teacher” choices that were the norm back then… even though nursing was out because I hate body fluids… I knew I was not disciplined enough to teach… but that’s what I chose because I was infatuated with why the world segregated the sweetest hearts…based solely on differences.

While I went to college, I also worked the evening or night shift in a group home for people with developmental delays. They were often older than me but so delighted to learn to write their name, so excited about so much the rest of the world took for granted.

Then I got pregnant, dropped out of school and didn’t return to complete my degree until my sweet boy was six years old… but I worked full-time on the adolescent unit at Fairbanks Hospital… before and during that time.. before I got to go back and while I finished school. I began to learn about toxic families and the very damaged kids who survived those environments.

In my career as a social worker, I have worked with many inner city kids… Chicago, Gary, Indy… primarily black and Hispanic… they very casually accepted a life span of about age 25… they dealt weed or meth, whatever…fast, big money to have the flash..and the weapons… no regard for consequences… no regard for not living long lives. . Lost kids. Damaged.kids who would threaten and yell and act like bad asses one minute and love on their mamas the next.

I always wished for very intense programs in inner city schools.. where kids were not only introduced to a different way than anyone in their families- sometimes for generations- had ever been exposed to. I wished for them to work hard at something… to fall in love with a trade or skill… to experience a feeling of worth and accomplishment…but of course, we have none of that… we have law officers in schools, trying to Band aid where we are already bleeding out…. in the loss of life.

We have overcrowded jail cells, housing drug addicts who will simply do their time and go back to what they knew… often dying in the process. .
There is a lot wrong with the system… there are people who pimp off the system, know how to work it, have their hand out constantly for whatever is free… take, take, take… but there are many more… especially single mothers with barely any work skills and no way to earn more than minimum wage… and senior citizens, still choosing- in a country like this… whether to buy food or medicine or have heat for the month. . Veterans dying every day…often by their own hand… because we, as a country, we are failing them… failing them for putting their lives on the line for us… shame on us.

When my son was doing his undergraduate work, I finally got the dream… to write… social work and raising awareness never left my heart. I wanted to educate people about community issues… I wanted them to know about same-sex families and the suicide risk of gay teens…I learned about people being gay when I was very young. Some of of my friends secretly discussed it with me… cried and wished and hoped to be different in a world that still didn’t talk about that topic and didn’t want them… one friend attempted suicide, stating they would rather be dead than gay…. so yes, I understand that pain…I lived it with them. And I have lost some to AIDS.

Through my work, I was in New York City after 911. I saw the kaleidoscope of colors of people… their tears were all the same… their eyes, filled with so much pain… all the same.

My entire life has been centered around people- all kinds and types and colors of people– I made my own life much more difficult based on some bad choices, so I do know a lot about key issues that single women, older women, face. I still live it.

In this country… in any country… it takes people working together – not against each other. It takes courage to learn about cultures or lifestyles you know little or nothing about. And a deep love for humanity… that is so necessary… to let your kids see you working for the better good… to include your children in causes, whether it is handing out socks and blankets at shelters or unloading trucks filled with supplies at food pantries, or tutoring or checking in with senior neighbors.

It takes all of us– ALL of us- to save ourselves and the world we live in… even if it’s down to only your neighborhood… or your child’s friends… Because of some breast cancer issues that still need resolved, I can’t do a lot right now that I spent all of my life doing… but what I can do, I do…. and God knows, there is always something that we can all do to help others.

What has so sadly become the current norm…to see the leaders of this country belittle others, be accused of lying… be reckless and sneaky and greedy… to step into groups… to feel that we need to collect weapons in order to protect ourselves from awful possibilities and fears…. None of this is the way… NONE of it.

We all have a responsibility as human beings to stand up and be brave and giving… respectful, accepting and unconditional with those who are different from what we have known.

I don’t mind how many people get mad at me … and even though it stings, I also don’t mind being hurt by some of those behaviors… I sure don’t at all know everything… but then no one else does, either.

I only know that for me, the fussing and belittling, the name-calling, the attacks…. it is not the way to anything good and lasting. And it is certainly not the way for a strong America, built on values that soldiers have died for since our beginning, to proudly function as one people.

 

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One Comment
  1. Naomi Roberts permalink

    Wow! She stated it very well. We are all God’s people. We need to learn to get along.

    Like

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