Wednesday, February 2, 2011
WTF Wednesday - Helping out a Skinhead
As many of you know, I work for an organization that provides short-term housing to homeless families. The pre-requisite is that the family household must include a child or a pregnant mother. The families go to a homeless shelter and we find the families and we provide hosuing to families. We don't want children to sleep in a homeless shelter with dozens of homeless adults.
After an intake is done, we provide a taxi and place them in a motel. Then within 72 hours, a case worker is assigned to a family. That's where I come in. I meet with families and makes sure that they are looking for alternative housing and/or looking for work.
One of the families I got recently was a young guy, his wife, and little child. I was told that the guy had gone to jail for fraud so I was a little apprehensive. I knew that people that do fraud tend to be manipulative so my guard was up. I went to my first visit, no show. On the second visit, I met with the wife and she seemed razzled but the guy wasn't around. "He's looking for work," I was told.
Before meetng them I had seen a picture of the father and my first instinct was "Skinhead". But when I met him, he seemed very courteous and polite. I began to think that perhaps I had pre-judged him. I was told that he had gotten a job but wasn't paid yet. I told both of them that they needed to seek work and shelter as our program is short term.
THEY ARE GONE
On another visit to the motel to see my other clients, I stopped by to speak with management to see how our clients were doing.
"You know your clients So and So. I caught them sporting colors and I told them that I would not tolerate any flashing of gang colors in my motel."
At this point, I was scrambling my head to figure out which of my clients she was talking about because typically when people "flash colors" they are usually gang members. It turns out she was talking about the white couple.
"I saw both of them flashing their red suspenders and I told them that was a no-no and I further told the dad, "what are you doing man, you're a father now." The dad agreed it was time to grow up.
It turns out that among many skinheads, wearing red suspenders is a sign that they are neo-nazi skin heads and therefore adhere to a white power ideology. My instincts were right
"Where are they now?" I asked. "They left because their time expired and had to scrounge up money to stay one night at another motel", the manager tells me.
I have the option to expand their time. I have discretion. To be honest, I wasn't fazed by their flashing of colors. "What do you think I should do?" I asked management at the motel. "I think he is really trying and I know they are hurting because he was reported to be pan handling." She went on, "plus he felt kind of embarassed for flying colors in the first place." I decided to help them. My main concern was their child. I spoke to the wife and explained that I could extend their time so long as they follow our rules and "stop flashing colors." The wife giggled. I think she was ashamed that she got exposed.
In the end I felt good that a child was not going to be sleeping on the street. I also giggled to myself about what had just happened. A Mexican decided to help out Neo Nazi skin heads. They couldn't have been that hardcore. They accepted my help.