Graphic by Bruna Costa

The word “no” holds so much authority it makes some men feel like they lost power. Children hear the word no for the right reasons — no running, no talking in class, no fighting, no disrespect to teachers or staff. When I was a child I used to hate the word no. That word made me mad, sometimes sad, because there might be something I wanted, but something that had no value in my life.

The word no does a lot to a child and a man when they hear that word. I see men today get mad and act out, and children be in their feelings. Being in different places like jails, hospitals and institutions, you hear — “No sir, I don’t have a cell phone,” “No, I can’t spare change,” “No, I don’t have time to listen to your sorry story,” “No, I don’t have time.” So now I accept the word no and put a smile on my face. It’s a funny word to me when I’m out selling Street Sense Media newspapers. People say no before I even say anything. They say “No, I don’t want to buy a newspaper.” One time, I said “Have a nice day,” and the person said NO!

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We believe ending homelessness begins with listening to the stories of those who have experienced it.