Cry Purple

One woman's journey through homelessness, crack addiction, and prison, to blindness, motherhood, and happiness

Posts Tagged ‘discrimination’

Just Wanting To Work and Pay Taxes!

Posted by crypurple on April 12, 2013

Hey guys,

Okay, so I attended a workshop for job seekers this week, as although I am making a little money doing some contract work here and there, I would like a stable paying job in between.

As we went around the room, the leader of the class  asked me “Ms. McDonald, have you thought about being on disability?” I said, “Why? I am able to work and I like being a working, tax-paying member of my community.” His response was, “But wouldn’t it be easier to be on disability and find a hobby?”

I said, “Well, I am co-founder of a church without walls for the homeless, I do ex-offender work in the community, I work on projects for human trafficking victims, and I do groups at local treatment centers, and I am a published author, and a mom to boot I think I have a hobby or two, but I want to work and earn a pay check.

I have bills to pay just like everyone else, and I have strengths and adaptive technology in today’s age allows me/ the blind to do what the sighted do in many jobs.

My barriers are my criminal record, and people like you that think I should get a government check and make your job easier.”

I am just always floored by people’s thoughts when I show up at regular stuff as a regular person, but I think this really got my goat!

I have had employers struggle to speak when I show up for interviews.  A couple of times, it was the response, “You’re blind!”

“Yes, I am”, I say.  Then they respond, “I had no idea.” I tell them,  “Well, it is not on the job application, so of course you wouldn’t know, but you called me in for the interview,  based on my  application and or resume.” Then, I end it with, “Shall we proceed?”

Or I interview with someone who is impressed that I show up, blind, and is eager to consider my placement, but then the felonies come up on my record and this is an issue/ concern.

I can handle the blind thing, or I can handle the felony thing, but not both! That seems to be the mindset of the employer!

Do these folks that are interviewing me not realize that they call me in to the interview, often after not only the job application process, but also a telephone screening?  These things are based on my responses, and my talents on paper.  However, their closed minds see the blind thing as a safety hazard, or too much work, or who knows what is going on in their minds?

My criminal history is long ago, and I get the concerns but really, I am blind. Do they think I would steal a car???

I think this issue takes me to that whole equality thing. I think food stamps should be for all felons, or none at all and not taken just from drug felons.

I think it should be a fair tool for all Americans as a tool for a stepping stone when an economic status changes, but I think it should be capped.  While getting the assistance,I think mandatory  trade school or college should be given if they are on the services  for more than 6 months!

I believe in learning to not be dependent on the government for housing again that should be a short term hand up.

I get it  when we are talking about the disabled, or seniors. Yes, I know, you guys.  I have no eye balls, but that does not make me disabled; it makes me without sight. I see myself as very abled, just have to do things a bit differently.

Now, I can’t work a fast food line or drive a taxi or be a pizza delivery gal, but I can be a receptionist, or customer service person at a call center. I can do nonprofit work as that is what I have done for the past 7 years.

My messy past has given me much insight to work with homeless, ex-offenders, disabled, addicts, or any other group that is socially or economically disenfranchised.

I am for equality and learned self-sufficiency – is that so bad?

The sad part of all this is that I have been to a number of job training programs that seem to just let me sit in the class, but I am the elephant in the room that they don’t address.

Or I get the have you considered disability?

The sad thing is if they take time to read my resume, or read my recommendation letters or speak to those I have worked for or with in the past, they will all get the same thing – if there is a way to do the job she will figure it out!

I remember when I became the program manager for a nonprofit in Kansas City.  It was a promotion after being a case  manager/program assistant.  I needed to do staffing and more meetings, and community relationship building and I needed a ride.  The public transportation would limit how many places I could get to during the day and not allow me to smoothly go from one place to the next in a time efficient manner so I chose to purchase a car!

Now I am a single, blind mom with an amazing little boy who just turned 7.  At the time of this situation, I needed to get him to day care and me to the office.  Then from the office, I needed to take care of business.

If I wanted/desired to do what the sighted do in mainstream employment, I had to be willing to maybe work a little extra at home, off the clock, or do something like purchase a car, to uphold my duties of my job!

I applied to purchase a car from a number of places. I showed up at a number of places. Then, at long last, a friend from church said to come by and we would talk!

He sold me a car; it was a one owner Toyota Camry.

I had no driver’s license; all I wanted was someone to take my money, so I could buy a car and hire a driver!

I have no eyes, I was not going to drive, but I went through 33 car dealerships/used car lots before someone would sell me a car.

He stepped past my blind thing. He did say, “I am not sure this is ethical but at least I know I am selling you a good car.”

After that, he told me often that telling people how he sold a car to blind gal was better than the biggest fish tale he would tell. He sold a car to a gal without eye balls!

We humans limit ourselves and limit chances for others with our preconceived thoughts of what we think we know.

Okay I am a single mom. I can’t get food stamps for life, due to my drug felonies. I choose not to get disability, because I enjoy working and paying taxes. When I was not making enough to survive and pay rent with just unemployment, I wrote a book about my life to add to our income a creative way to help me help myself without Government assistance.

But really, I just want a job, a paycheck, and a little place to call our own. I live within my means in a tiny one bedroom apartment with my son who is 7. We have a bunk bed, but no yard.

But I dream of a little two bedroom modest place, with a fenced yard, so I can have a guide dog, and oh yes, a job!

Society has a closed mind. I will continue seeking work and know there is an employer that will give me a chance. I also know that employer will have a wonderful, hard-working employee, as all I am seeking is a fair chance!

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