On April 9, 2007 at approximately 9:15am I saw a black man running across a very busy intersection in Atlanta. He was in a 200 meter stride. It appeared he was trying his best to get to an area where he could go unnoticed while urinating. As I watched this man struggle to unzip his pants I began to laugh uncontrollably. For some reason on this Monday morning I needed a reason to laugh and I guess someone to laugh at. I found my victim in a black homeless man. As I drove past this man, who could have been my uncle Raymond at one time or even me if I don’t find a job real soon, I continued to laugh. I just found the scene to be hilarious for some odd reason. He just could not get his penis out of his jeans to relieve himself. His difficulty became my sick joke and my pleasure entertainment as I road in the comforts of my luxury vehicle.
When I finally lost view of this particular man and as soon as I approached Garrett Morgan’s invention I saw another black man in the cross walk talking to himself and carrying a briefcase. He had on shorts, a filthy white t-shirt, dilapidated looking Chuck Taylor’s, and suspenders. Immediately, I thought: He is homeless. He had to be dressed like that and looking so defeated. Here it was 43 degrees in April, and this black man had on shorts. He had to be cold, but his destination in his mind was work.
While I experienced the comedic moment, I shared the play-by-play with someone extremely important to me. She did not appear to find the urinating man story to be funny. I just believe my animation tickled her. Remember, I was literally falling out of the driver’s seat giggling. As I continued to have this cell phone morning chat outside of my free minutes timeframe I began to really “get in-tuned” with what I was making fun of on this eventful morning. It got additionally clearer to me when I parked, and a homeless woman asked me for some money for breakfast. In my unsympathetic way I refused to press the down portion of my driver’s side window lever to hear what this broken soul asked of me. I read her lips as I gazed into her intense eyes: “I am cold and hungry. Can you please spare a dollar?”
In those eyes I saw pain, embarrassment, humiliation, and personal disgust, but I still could not bring myself to communicate with this homeless black woman. I guess I did not really SEE her as a human being. She must have been what my dear friend described within her question while I laughed at that man trying his best to take a leak: Is he a real man or a homeless man? After realizing the magnitude of her question an apology came through my cell phone, and then and only then did I began to understand that this series of events was either divine or an opportunity for me to make it a God Sent Message. Considering I do believe in God, I want to believe that this Power we claim to identify with and who we pray to each night was communicating something to me. Even if one day some “logical” human being proves there is no God, I will always believe that there was a God Force speaking to me via on my faith on April 9, 2007 between the minutes of 9:15am and 9:30am.
For a few months now I have been trying to think of another way to give something back. You know, do something other than constantly talk and write about the ills affecting the black community, speaking occasionally at schools, raising my son, donating money to the United Negro College Fund, and mentoring my nephew.
Every since my first day of working in the Five Points area of Atlanta I have disliked that I must entrench my spirit and being in the mess that plays out without interruption or failure in the heart of America’s fastest growing metropolis. I despise the self-degradation that I see, and the lack of personal responsibility displayed by my people. I truly detest the ramifications that have been inflicted upon us as a result of an oppressive and racist governmental system. In spite of this internal conflict, one thing has been ongoing within me: I have, in my unique way, connected with the homeless population on Broad, Trinity, and Mitchell streets. Through significant mental anguish and my uncouthly compassion another meaningful cause will be added to my life.
As of today, I have decided to team up with a program that feeds the homeless on Saturday mornings in that same parking lot where I see black men and women walking around in a trance begging for a little bit of my government granted salary. The director of the program doesn’t know it yet, but he will be surprised when I stop by this coming Saturday morning with bags of hand-me-downs. I remember those bags filled with goodies!
Your help is needed. If you live in the Atlanta metro area please go through your closets, and donate those “old” clothes to a good cause. I will even pick them up. There is not a huge rush because this weekend some black man who, by the way, could be my father will get two pair of shoes, a few shirts, and some slacks from my closet.
If you would like to donate please let me know ASAP. Also, if you are reading while living in another city please encourage your church to think about forming a homeless ministry. I will even do what I can from afar. Hold up – all of our churches are already addressing this issue. Righhhht!
Lord, help us to SEE these aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, grandfathers, grandmothers, mommas, and fathers as REAL PEOPLE and not homeless people.
Written by Muata. Inspired by that man who I hope finally got his penis out of his pants.