So, back to blogging. It's been a very interesting couple of days since I blogged last. After our day of work with the office and the tool shed, we spent the next day scraping paint off a house a few blocks down. This was a very different type of work from how we'd spent the previous day; rather than just helping First Street, this time we were actually helping members of the community. This was my first time actually seeing how the poor people of color are living in this area of the city. As we donned masks and eye goggles, and started scraping away the thin flakes of white paint from the rotting planks of wood, I couldn't help but glance down into the windows. How do you cope with living in a house that is coming apart at the seams? How do you deal with the sides of your house rotting off, after two years of damage? Simply, how do you get through the filth? All around us, other houses were creaking apart just the same.
It was tough work, but I felt good about it. This feeling was strengthened when I walked back for a bathroom break and to check in with Darryl. As I walked back, I have to admit I was nervous. This is a very low-income, very black, and very crime-ridden area. People were just there, starving, sitting, dragging for something, anything, to hold onto--- how would they treat me?
As I walked through, I smiled, and tried not to make too much eye contact. Would they talk to me--- this little white girl from Minnesota? Before long, an old man stopped me. He asked me what I was doing, and if I went to church down on First Street. I smiled, made small talk, and explained that I was a volunteer. Immediately, they all paid me respect--- "God bless you", "God bless you, baby", "We need it, good for you", "That's hard work, God bless you". I was blown away. That they would pay me that kind of respect, and they don't even know me, and have every reason to dislike me--- my privileged, rich, white upbringing, getting all the opportunities their sons and daughters never got--- but apparently my ivory tower didn't dissuade them from seeing the work we're trying to do here. It's important, and like the woman said last night--- "It's not about white or black, it's about help." I'm so glad we're learning to be able to come together like this. It's the future we're building here, a future that we can construct ourselves--- a future built between all colors and classes and thoughts and people--- and this kind of work is how it starts.