Physically present, and socially distanced, just for sake of the covid guidelines, the mostly African American crowd lined up by the gym entrance where the cherry blossoms were pouring their leaves blushing over our faces. Their eyes narrated the exhaustion from all the news of deaths, loss, and regularly changing regulations. Yet their shared culture, values and experiences seemed to surpass their prostrations. It seemed to bond them emotionally. They were certainly ready to just get things done for their own, their family, their community, and country, even if it meant having a nudge on the unhealed wounds for the Black Indigenous People Of Color (BIPOC) in the Northeast Portland area when it comes to vaccines. Hoping that this time, they aren’t being tricked by the well known and approved “health care” proclaiming organizations into getting syphilis that affect their health, but an actual vaccine that builds their resistance to the pandemic. Hoping that the fact that they’re getting the vaccine through their local Self Enhancement Inc.(SEI), their very own local organization might have a better outcome than a government agency they heard about from afar..
On a gloomy overcast Monday afternoon when the sunless cloudy sky still somehow made me squint, I drove to downtown Portland. I wasn’t heading for the delicious trademark food trucks, or the playful, people packed Pioneer Courthouse, or even the cute boutiques and luxurious shopping malls. No, I was heading towards an interview with a woman working to help sex workers and victims of sex trafficing. On the drive, I was having second thoughts, wondering if the building would be run down, shady, and unmanaged, except for a woman who’d be dressed in poor donated clothing, probably covered in tattoos. These aren’t stereotypes I’m proud of, but they are images I relied on given I had no prior contacts and education, much less conversations, with those in this mysterious industry. Walking to their building, I passed a homeless man on the sidewalk with a tangled gray bird nest of hair. He was holding a ragged, fraying brown blanket to his chest and dragging his feet, unsure of his destination. I remember feeling afraid, running past without meeting his eyes, and regretting letting my Dad drop me off so far from the building.
Despite having frequented the restaurant prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, I walk up to the building feeling anxious. I grasp the cool bronze of the door handle and shudder a bit when I realize it is the kind of metal that leaves a nauseatingly sour scent on your hands. Four sheets of paper taped to the inside of the window welcome me––one instructing to maintain six feet of distance between customers, another reading “Thank you for supporting Sho!” and making me smile. Inside, I follow the scuffed blue arrows on the ground that remind me of how long we have been living with this blasted virus. Eventually, I stop behind a sign instructing me to wait to be seated. Ahead of me is a woman in black sweatpants and a black sweater staring down at her phone, surely perplexed by the kid who just walked in with a cherry red binder, two pencils, and the nub of a pink eraser that desperately needs replacing.
Sri Lanka, 2015 – Peter Singer had just sold $18,000 worth of stamps. The buyer, a prominent Imam, was an eager collector and longtime customer who had been picking off stamps – mosques of the world and landmarks of Sri Lanka – from Singer’s collection. The customer had supposedly paid in full – four separate installments over the course of a couple weeks. But Singer had received nothing. One of their emails was hacked, and the sum had been sent elsewhere.
Covid-19 outbreaks have forced many people around the world to stay inside their homes for months on end to prevent the spread of the virus. The question no one is asking is, where do you go if you do not have a home?
- Meeting John
11:50 AM. I turned on my computer and pulled up my interview document. I went to my calendar and double checked if I had sent him an invite. I clicked the Zoom link at 11:55 AM so I wouldn’t be late. I cleared my throat and read through the questions that I created while waiting for him to join. ‘What a 2021 version of interview preparation,’ I thought. Soon, I saw him in the waiting room; I let him in, and his screen took a couple of seconds to load.
Driving west out of Portland towards Hillsboro, as urban areas and strip malls gave way to green fields and woods, it was easy to feel the hustle and grind of the city dissolve into a sense of peace and quiet. Similarly, as I drove past the Washington County Juvenile Courthouse in downtown Hillsboro, with its quiet gray exterior shaded by trees, it was easy to imagine minor cases such as contract disputes, speeding tickets, and automobile accidents being heard within its four walls. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, within that drab, unassuming building, judges are being asked to make some of the most significant and complicated decisions that ever come before a court. Day after day, case after case, judges of the Juvenile Court have to decide whether to interfere in that most profound and foundational relationship — the relationship between parent and child. Judges have to decide whether to separate children from their parents, either temporarily or, in the worst circumstances, permanently because it is no longer safe either physically or emotionally for them to remain in their home. It is not an exaggeration to say that many parents and children will experience the worst moment of their lives within that courthouse, and the trauma and the damage that can result from these decisions, one way or the other, can change a child’s life.
Molly Pringle’s path to Executive Director of Portland Street Medicine is closely tied to her past work in domestic abuse, which has long since been an issue in the United States. According to the CDC, “nearly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner during their lifetime” (CDC). What’s often overlooked, however, is the intimate relationship between domestic abuse and houselessness. It’s estimated that approximately 80% of houseless women with children have experienced domestic violence; the ACLU states that advocates have known for years that “the connection between domestic violence and homelessness and suggest ways to end the cycle in which violence against women leads to life on the streets” (ACLU). Pringle began her work at Portland Street Medicine in October of 2019; previously, she had done work at Call to Safety, a crisis hotline for domestic abuse. “One of the top causes of homelessness for women is domestic violence and fleeing an abusive relationship,” she told me, citing this relationship as the reason for her interest in PSM.
Speech Language Pathology (or, Speech Pathology) is, frankly, a fairly unknown profession. If one was to look up “speech pathology” in the Oxford dictionary, they would get the following definition:
speech pathology n. the study and treatment of defective speech.
Ellie Riser and Nnene Ndubisi
Summer 2021 is already in full swing for teenagers across the nation so your new music mavens Nnene N. and yours truly have cultivated the music you need to start your summer off on the right note.