Monday, December 04, 2006

last night out as a single girl

You've all heard by now that I am getting married on Sunday. And you all know you are invited to marry us too. All I ask in return is a present. A present, you ask? A present about an social justice issue that concerns you, one that you want to share that will perhaps enlighten others of us to get involved. No issue is irrelevent if it matters to you.

You can find out more here and here. You know you want to be on the guest list. And Mad is promising girl (brain) on girl (brain) action. Librarians are wild like that.

So anyways, I figured since I am getting hitched (again, and to so many of you) that I might want to get out and sow my last few wild oats. Lucky for me, Columbia Pictures invited a bunch of us homeless hacks in the Bay Area to an early screening of The Pursuit of Happyness in recognition of National Project Connect week. Nothing says changing the world like a bunch of homeless hacks all in one theater seeing a free movie.

You should see this movie. Chris Gardner is an amazing human being. And his struggle to keep his family safe and housed is just one example of what thousands of families go through on a daily basis. Hands down, an incredibly moving film. Will Smith did an amazing job portraying Chris' story.

And while I don't want to be critical, I do need to say that I had hoped the movie would have made a stronger case for the broken system rather than focusing solely on how damn hard this man worked to save his life. I fear it might give the impression that anyone who's homeless can get their shit together if only they work hard enough. I wish that was true, but we aren't alone in this. It's a dysfunctional system with many layers and obstacles - not one easily overcome by many. Chris Gardner is an amazing human being, and what he was able to do in his life is inspirational and remarkable and humbling...but it's not only up to the Chris Gardners of the world. It's up to local, county, and state legislators to stand up in their communities and advocate for change. To increase the supply of affordable housing. To improve minimum wage and the cost of child care. To leverage non-profits to get the most comprehensive services possible. It's up to all of us to make sure everyone is housed, and safe, and warm.

Chris may have done it all by himself, but that is what makes him so heroic. I am no Chris Gardner. And in all my years of working with homeless folks, I've never met anyone else like him. He's extraordinary. But the problems still remain, and will remain, until we make housing a priority in every community.

13 comments:

acumamakiki said...

I never said I was in on your wedding party but I am! I would love to be a bridesmaid and I've got the perfect black dress to wear.
My social wedding present is battered women and I'll blog more about it on my own probably tomorrow.

As a member of the wedding party, I so get to be there for the sow-the-oats part right??

Anonymous said...

I intend to see the movie, though I have heard similar criticism of it on another blog I can't remember which.

Keep those fires stoked - it is going to be one HOT honeymoon!

Anonymous said...

I actually thought of you when I saw the trailer for the movie, and I thought you would feel this way. I like how you laid it out in the last couple of paragraphs. Another great post to add to the American Dream Files.

As for the wedding: I've written before about advocating for education here in town, and, for your gift, I will try not to get so frustrated by the uphill battle that I totally give up.

Anonymous said...

Did someone say honeymoon? Oh my. Suddenly I am very, very warm.

I saw Will Smith on Oprah last week (at the gym where the channel was fixed in place). Oprah was so "only in captialist America could this rags to riches story happen." It infuriated me for many reasons but partly b/c the assumption was that this kind of fairy tale is the rule rather than the rare, rare exception. I think Crunchy Carpets mentioned all this in a comment on you American Dream post last week. I remember nodding vigourously when I read her comment.

Anonymous said...

I had the same reservations about the movie as Mad Hatter already articulated. Oprah was over the top with the Horatio Alger stuff and it turned me off. Will Smith expressed the same thoughts. It's unlikely that I'll see it. There's enough of that propaganda all over Fox News every day. I'll probably choose "Blood Diamonds" instead.


Peace,


~Chani

crazymumma said...

I am posting tonight about a homeless woman I met when I was 11. I wrote it about a week ago and have been sitting on it, and now here is my opportunity. That is my present to you baby. I will lift several glasses of wine to my lips in celebration. Honeymoon in Belize perchance?

scribbit said...

I saw an interview with him years ago and was impressed--now I can't wait to see the movie. I tear up every time I see the preview.

Anonymous said...

Jen....I hate to say this...I don't really have time for a full-on post of all things regarding social justice that I could climb on top of a soap box about. So, can I do a 'cheap present'?? Consider this a gift card to a really cool store.
Foster Care system/Mental Health issues/attachment issues and long-term placements.
The fost care system is fucked. These kids are fucked. And many mental health/attachment issues they suffer from are ignored. And people are turning to other countries because adoption here is a pain in the ass.
Again, I apologize for the hasty gift. But it is one nonetheless. Sorry I couldn't be more 'formal'.

Anonymous said...

I just realized I posted my comment to the wrong post. Oops. My bad. I'm totally stressed, sista.

Ruth Dynamite said...

Oh man where to begin...

If I had one second, I might see the movie. But despite the happy ending, I know I'd leave feeling angry and disgusted at the hypocrites who have the power and resources to help but don't for convenient religious/political reasons.

Makes me ill.

Mrs. Chicky said...

I want to see that movie! It looks really good. Something tells me, however, that I won't be seeing it until it comes out on video. Just a hunch.

Anonymous said...

I'm crushed. All of the great people are taken - some even multiple times.

One of those etiquette bots says that I have a year to get a gift to you. So, due to my current time crunch, I'm playing the etiquette card.

Let those oats fly...

Momish said...

I thought of you too, Jen, when I saw the ads for this movie. I definately want to see it. I agree with what you said, as it can be said for most stories of amazing heroism. It's all too easy to lose sight of the fact that the person is being depicted due to his or her amazing ability to beat the odds. That is the point of their special tale, but it gets twisted, as you said.

Still, when I saw the trailer, I really wanted to know just what he was up against and the amazing (rare) resources it would take to overcome those odds. I think if the movie can portray the reality of the common homeless situation as well as it protrays the uniqueness of his accomplishment, then it just might help in the end.