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Tell Me Who I AM Today in the U.S. there is a large percentage of people that are homeless. There are so many questions when one sees a homeless person, for example why doesn't heshe get a job and get out of the streets? People that make comments like the one just made probably doesn't really know anyone that is homeless so they do no understand what they go through. In the book " Tell Me Who I Am,'' Elliot Liebow tries to explain what the cost and gains are for women living in a homeless shelter. In 1984 Elliot Liebow decided to study homeless women in Washington D.C.The place that he volunteered at was called the "Refuge Shelter for Homeless Women.'At this shelter Liebow became great friends with some of these women. He would allowthem in to his home to meet his family and to get to know him personally.
The process inwhich he decided to study the women was called Participant observation. During thisprocess he would spend a day or two with the women then he would come home andtake notes on his experiences. He would write down every little detail that he couldremember every conversation every word. Liebow approached things this way becausehe thought that if he sat and took notes that it would make people act unnatural. Liebowreally never asked the women to many questions either, what he did was he would just sit in on conversations and based upon the situation he may ask a question or two. Thereason for the tactic was to stop the women from lying to him and not being there normalselves. Once Liebow felt that he had enough information he had to figure out how to make sense of everything that he had reported on. He would always read overhis notes in order to keep in mind what he reported on.
What he decided to do was he put the notes in chronological order. He then picked what each chapter would be about, andfrom there he began to write. In Liebow's study he found out that living in a homeless shelter would cost somewomen some of the things that they wanted but they also gained some things by livingthere. One cost that these women may have experienced when living at the shelter is thatthey may have became dependent on self assistance checks. Liebow reported that he sawpersonality changes because of the money given to the women . He said that when thewomen would receive their money they seem to be the nicest women with no problems.Later he reported that when these females were starting to run low on money thatthey would slip in a depression. He said that these women would try to show peoplealong with themselves that they were mentally ill.
These women would start to feel sorryfor themselves and feel like it's them against the world. Another cost that the women experienced from living at the shelter was theirinability to get a job. The reason for this was because the women would not be able toput a phone number and address on the application. Some of the women may get hiredfor a job but the employer was not able to get in touch with them to in form the women.The women could put down the address to the shelter but most wouldn't because theybelieved that employers would be scared off. The women tried to get the head of theshelter to change the way that the phone was answered but the request was denied. Another cost from living at the shelter was the fact that the will always be racism.In the shelter there many different points of views every person had a opinion about acertain issue.
There were some women that didn't like other womenbecause of there race. This was a issue that wasn't a favorite of most people at the shelter. Some of the white females felt like they couldn't be friends with black females because of the attitudes of the black females. One women was noted for saying that black people ruled Washington. This comment was made because of the amount of blacks that live Washington.
There was also groups that formed because people of certain ethnic groups hung out together and others where excluded. There were also good thing about living in a shelter. One thing about living in a shelter is that there is a sense of companionship, each women knew that they were pretty much in the same situation trying to reach a common goal. The women would use each other to find strength. A example of friendship at the shelter was Liebow's relationship with some of the women he would lend them money and give them rides.
He was a friend someone that would help the women to feel good about themselves. He would also let some of the women use his address as a mailing address. The shelter was a place to find help and make friends. Another benefit that the found from living at the shelter was that they found self respect. These women didn't have to live like animals. They were able to settle down somewhat.
The women didn't have to bounce around as much and they always had a place to lay their heads. They could actually get the feeling of being a women having the bathroom to use and just being able to relax. The last gain that the women experienced was the fact that they had a place to store their personal belongings. They were able to store some of their personal belongings at the shelter and the women would have to carry cherished items and constantly worry about them. Liebow learned a lot about these women from studying them .
Some people may question Liebow and ask him why he would as time as he did in the shelter. Well the answer to that question is that he did what gave him pleasure which was to help people that did need help. First he said that he wondered why that although all of the wome were in the same situation, why some could make it through this and others didn't. Well his solution to this was some do some don't. Which meant everyone reacts differently to certain situations.
Personally I learned a lot from this book and I thought it was a good book.
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