August 13, 2007

atlanta craigslist > housing wanted

At the top of my late-summer to-do’s list is finding someone(s) to sublet my home while I spend the next months in Tel Aviv. To accomplish this task, I put out the word to friends, neighbors, colleagues, fellows at synagogues, and others. And, in this wired world, I place ads and comb those placed by seekers on Emory University’s off-campus housing site and on the mother of all online urban communities, Craigslist.

It was on Craigslist that I spotted what seemed like a standard ad seeking housing. Yet when I clicked the link and scanned the text, two sentences shouted out, reverberating deep inside me. These sentences are hardly standard in such ads. What surprises me is that more ads don’t include them.

While the person who placed the ad was seeking housing in a different part of town and at a different price point, ignoring the shout was not an option. Within nanoseconds, I equivocated not whether to "do something," but how.

And I sent the person an email. He replied three minutes later. And between my sobs, I recalled Incident, a poem whose title I borrowed for a post I mounted last year. That post includes the photo that belongs right here, too.

Reply to:
Date: 2007-08-12, 3:41PM EDT

My Aug 1st deadline has pass me by and I am still in search of some where to stay. I am a professional BLACK male, some people were shocked to see I was black when I came to view the property, so I decided to let you know before hand. So if you don't want to rent to black people, keep it moving. 27 yrs old, and graduate of Morehouse College. I need a Studio or One bedroom small apartment. I can only afford about 700. I don't have money for a deposit but it can be made in payments. I work at the Home Depot Corporate Office and I tend to work long hours. Drug free and I do not have any pets. Please provide me with pics, and just not pics of the bathroom and the living room.

Date: Sun, 12 Aug 2007 13:38:31 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Tamar Orvell"

Subject: your ad

just to let you know i read what you said about people being shocked by your color. i am so sorry that the bigots still impose their ignorance on others. you have lived with this reality so i am not saying what you don't know. i just want you to know that someone, me, was saddened by the experience you describe. keep telling the truth. some day, people will become better than they are now.

Date: Sun, 12 Aug 2007 16:41:26 -0400
Subject: Re: your ad

Thank u, u really lifted my spirits.
--He's Able


Nizo said...

Hello from Montreal..
I just discovered your blog via a comment you posted on OCCUPIED.

I really liked your piece on "Breaking the stigma of mental illness". A friend of mine is suffering from schizophrenia so it struck a particularly strong chord.

כל הכבוד

littlepurplecow said...

I'm glad you sent the email, Tamar. My new favorite quote is:

"Be the change you want to see in the world." - Ghandi

You are doing just that.

BronzeBuckaroo said...

The world would certainly be a better place to live in if all people would stand up to make a difference as you did. Just standing up and not letting an injustice go on or a few kind words of support can make all the difference sometimes.

I discovered a long time ago that you are a beautiful woman and one to be admired!

Tamar Orvell said...

Nizo — Thank you for hopping from Occupied, the blog, to here. We have much to share; I learned about you and your blog from Lisa, and now, from you. You have much humor, history, stories, and lessons to share. I forwarded your comment to my friend whose daughter suffers from schizophrenia.

Stephanie — Your Gandhi quotation is one of my favorites, too. And the video on your blog of the young child penning Gandhi's words is remarkable. We are never too young nor too old to learn the message, and to live it.

BronzeBuckaroo — Keeper of heritage and proud son of a great, creative, and wise people. Thank you, my virtual pal, for keeping the lights burning bright for this generation and future ones.

To the person whose craigslist ad prompted this discussion — Major thanks to you for sharing your truth and in this way having moved your fellows to reflect on the constant need/urgency to make this world more just.

Sherry said...

As a Black woman who has had many discussions with people who assert that racism really isn't a problem anymore, I admire this man's frankness. I know you well, so of course I'm not surprised in the least that his experience touched you and that you reached out to him. Now if only we had a lot more people like the two of you.

Madeline said...

Your emotional reaction to the ad is what so many are missing. Vulnerablity is being hidden behind defensiveness and denial. i wish more people had so much soul and integrity Tamar. Having just started reading your blog recently, I don't know - do you write here when you are in Israel? I hope so.

Tamar Orvell said...

Sherry — This man's frankness was essential to my little act. I believe, as I often say here and elsewhere: Some are guilty; all are responsible. The giant thinker and doer, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, said that. I am clear that we MUST aim to be frank, with ourselves and each other. Else, it can be impossible to know where the shoe pinches (on the shoe-wearer's foot), and our pledge to be responsible is hard(er) to implement.

Madeline — Yes, indeed I do blog from Israel. For a taste of posts on my Israeli life, check out these selected "Popular Posts" (listed in the right column on the "home page")... and thanks for asking!

* Breaking the stigma of mental illness

* Israeli medical doctor

* Tel Aviv Cinemateque Library

* When a child starts to go bald כשילד מתחיל ל...

* Subject: I just heard the news