Review by Iyesha S. Jenkins
“Misconceptions” was performance of a compilation of stories told by three young women of the Community Women’s Shelter. The cast consisted of Angels S. (a songwriter), Carlotta P. (a singer and poet), and Charlotte P. (a cancer victim). The audience was a diverse crowd of about forty-five people, who seemed to enjoy the play.
The performance started off with the three young ladies shouting out common “misconceptions” of homeless people. Words like “crack head,” “lazy,” “hoe,” “uneducated,” “stupid” and “lifeless” introduced the play. Angela S. began to tell her story about having two children, and a husband with whom she had recently separated. Angela became unemployed because America “has been taken over by computers.” She began to sing very powerful hymns that she wrote herself. She spoke about her children being taken away from her due to the fact she couldn’t provide for them the things they needed. Soon after her children were taken away, she was diagnosed with diabetes and became very ill. She now relies on her faith to get her through each day.
Carlotta P., the eldest of the three women, spoke of being the tenth of eleven children in her family. She spoke of having very low self-esteem and being very depressed growing up. When she became of age, she was able to hide her depression by slipping into drugs and alcohol, to which she became severely addicted. She had a lucrative job, but slowly, because of her addictions, became unemployed. She began to recite two of her poems, Homeless, and Blessings and Joy. She also provided the harmony to Angela’s hymns.
Charlotte V., a woman near the end of her road of homelessness, spoke of living in another state and moving to Cleveland to be with her boyfriend. She said that he moved her here under false pretenses and the two shortly became homeless. During her relationship she found out that she has cancer. She spoke of how she became homeless so quickly away from her family or friends who could have helped. She also, like the other women, solely relies on faith to get her through the day. She is now getting an apartment and starting to get her life together.
The performance lasted forty-five minutes, but the message stays with me to this day. There are so many misconceptions about homeless people. Whether it’s how they got there, or why they are there now. Part of their message was not to question why people are homeless, but to question how you can help. Always remember that we all are a paycheck, a natural disaster, a fire, a severe illness, a breath away from being homeless. I end this with a poem written by one of the performers.
by Carlotta P.
I always thought that homeless was without shelter.
I always thought that homeless was without having clothing.
I always thought that homeless was without having food to eat each day.
But to be truly homeless, is not to have
love in your heart,
hope in your soul, and
God in your complete being.
Copyright Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland Ohio Issue 78 October 2006