Posted by Trina Bartlett
I left my parents’ rural home and drove more than an hour to a day-long meeting. When that meeting was over, I drove five more hours home.
The drive got longer after a received then ruminated about a phone call from an angry friend.
“Trina,” she said. “I have to talk to you, because I know you’ll understand.”
Even though I’d been talking to people all day, anyone who strokes my ego always has my attention.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“I just got the worst phone call I have ever received. It was absolutely horrible.”
At first, I was really concerned for my friend, but as she continued to talk, my concern turned to anger.
The Sheriff’s Association had called asking her to donate to a program to conduct drug education in the schools. Since my friend and her husband had previously supported the organization, she let the man on the other end of the phone talk.
What he said was absolutely despicable.
“We have all these kids whose parents don’t care about them,” the voice said. “All they want to do is sit at home and collect their welfare check. They don’t want to talk to their kids about drugs. They just don’t care enough. That’s why we have such a drug problem.”
According to my friend, she pulled a Trina Bartlett. (I have to give myself a little credit in this story).
She asked the man on the phone if he knew whom he was talking with, gave him an earful and then hung up.
‘I don’t know if he was following a script or if he was just expressing his own opinions,” my friend said. “But either way, the fact that he was trying to raise money by blaming people on welfare for drug abuse was absolutely offensive.”
I was not only offended by the sweeping judgments about anyone who receives public assistance but also by the fact that he was literally preying on the prejudices of other people. Public servants shouldn’t be perpetuating stereotypes. The should be countering them.
Ironically, the man making the fundraising call targeted the wrong person.
She is a parent who knows drug abuse is not an income nor a class issue. She knows that no matter how much parents care, their children sometimes still make poor choices. And she also knows that blaming people is not the best way to approach drug prevention.
The day after she received the fundraising call, my friend called the county sheriff, whom she knows personally.
He has yet to return her call, and something tells me he probably never will.
Yet that’s not the end of this story.
This story only ends when other people also call him and complain. It only ends when other people have the guts to stand up to stereotypes and prejudice. And it only ends when people stopping blaming and simply join together to help and support each other.
I can only hope this story ends sooner rather than later.