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Maybe they're waiting for him to pull himself up by the bootstraps yet again.
"Ex drug addict reclaims life, becomes crane operator. Libeled by paper, he reclaims life again, does XYZ."

Posted by him | February 26, 2007 10:02 AM

Dan, it was not just the PI, the news channels threw him under the bus as well. Frankly, I think he should have sued them if he has grounds to. But that would be responsible journalism and until the Seattle Times or the PI start doing that, I do not purchase there paper and hope they do go out of business.

Posted by Andrew | February 26, 2007 10:07 AM

Thanks for staying on top of this.

Posted by Whitney | February 26, 2007 11:06 AM

Um. Ya.

While I agree that the up-by-their-bootstraps song and dance is played out by the P-I, there's a bigger issue at hand here.

WTF kind of racist bullshit IS this?!

As a social worker, a REAL social worker, with many highly qualified black colleagues, I resent the fact that the profile they did on a black social worker is a prostitute/drug addict cum (sp?) "social worker."

1.) Why she gotta be a "CRACKHEAD?" In the article it only states that she had a problem with cocaine, not crack. Was it crack or cocaine that she used? And if was was cocaine, why is she a "CRACKHEAD?" Is it 'cause she's BLACK? And why is that the headline? If it was a white prostitute, would it say "METH HEAD!" or would it just say "drug addict?..."

2.) She was a drug addict, a prostitute, and a neglectful mother all the way up until July 3rd, 2001. But all it took was 36 days in jail for her to see the light? To become clean and sober and reformed and ready to be a "social worker?" And two months later she WAS one? Ya, bullshit. A street outreach worker does not a social worker make, and anyone who would hire someone who was so recently involved and did not yet have a history of sobriety and self-sufficiancy is completely irresponsible. Yes, people can reform. People can go from crackhead prostitutes to social workers. But it's a process. And 36 days in jail and a change of heart is not the end of the process. It can be a beginning, yes, but is far from the end. She can't be a social worker when she NEEDS a social worker. Something that ALL social workers know is that we cannot help other people until we help ourselves. If we're are struggling with addiction, sobriety, getting our children back from CPS, etc... We cannot be helping others at the same time. It's unethical. Besides, to refer to her as a social worker, without the training and education and history that goes along with that, is wrong. It is a professional title, like doctor or lawyer. From everything I have read, she is NOT a social worker.

3.) "As part of its Black History Month coverage, the Seattle P-I is running a series of profiles of African Americans in the Seattle area who are making a difference in unique ways." WTFWTFWTFWTFWTF?! So, the P-I wants to do a profile on a black social worker and a fake social worker who is a recovering drug addict is the best that they could do? It's that kind of soft racism that hurts the most. "Oh, loooook at the black people! Even though they are drug addicts and child neglectors and whores, they can sometimes change and do good things too!"

It's so, so wrong.

Posted by Bigger Picture | February 26, 2007 12:34 PM

I guess proper grammar is not a prerequisite for a career in social work.

Posted by elswinger | February 26, 2007 4:14 PM

Hey Elswinger,

Bigger Picture's post was one of the more insightful and well-written I've seen here. What few mistakes (s)he made were likely the result of writing quickly in a little comment box.

There are hundreds of slog comments a day filled with misspellings, solecisms, etc. and you don't say shit. But someone makes a genuine attempt to point out subtexts that seem to have escaped most people's attention, and you decide it's time to pick on technicalities.

So go fuck yourself.

Posted by elswinger is a prick | February 26, 2007 5:46 PM

Thank you, #6.

And Elswinger... If you're talking about the "Why she gotta be a "CRACKHEAD?'" comment, that was 100% intentional.

Would it make you feel better if I said "Why does she have to be a 'crackhead?'"

Don't hate just 'cause everyone doesn't talk all purdy like you...

Posted by Bigger Picture | February 26, 2007 6:56 PM

Bigger Picture @4:

Before we get in a pissing match, let me say that I basically agree with the larger point you make about the racial tone of the article. It sure makes me a little uncomfortanle.

Having said that, I suggest you re-read the article.

"A self-described 'low-bottom crackhead'" See, that's where they get the term crackhead from.

Full disclosure: I know Nature and the program she works for. That is how she describes herself. She says "my life is an open book" and it is to those who know and work with her.

Second, I've read the article twice now and can find no reference to her as a social worker. I see, "outreach worker," "women's program coordinator," and "case manager." Two others in the article are identified as social workers and one person says she wants to be, but Nature is not called your sacred space is safe.

Finally, your assertion that "anyone who would hire someone who was so recently involved and did not yet have a history of sobriety and self-sufficiancy is completely irresponsible" shows that you have a profound lack of knowledge of community health outreach programs or peer education.

Such programs rely on hiring folks that are from the actual communities they serve -- including hiring ACTIVE drug users and prostitutes. Yes, these programs are politically controversial. They are, however, well researched and have been shown to be highly effective. In the case of HIV prevention with injection drug users, peer education through active users is a federally supported intervention. Even under the Bush administration.

Posted by gnossos | February 26, 2007 10:00 PM

I knew that she referred to herself as a crackhead in the article. It doesn't change the fact, though, that it was poor judgement, and a hint of racism, that led the P-I to include that quote in the article and, moreso, to refer to her as a crackhead in the HEADLINE. Also, they stated that she had an addiction to cocaine. While derived from the same substance, the two are mutually exclusive. In our society, though, we refer to any black drug addict as a "crackhead," regardless of their drug of choice. And that is wrong.

And, yes, the P-I did refer to her as a "social worker." Look at the caption under the photo. Also, throughout the section that discusses her "recruit" Whittington's desire to be a social worker, it is implied that she wants to be a social worker like Carter-Gooding.

I am quite familiar with the street outreach process and the importance of having people from the community-- in the community-- out in the field networking, dispensing information, and helping to create access to resources. It is the role of the street outreach worker to bring the clients to the case workers, the medical professionals, and the social workers... Not to provide the case management. Many CDP's are former drug addicts, many DV advocates were once abused themselves. Having lived the experience, being tapped into the community... It can be a very powerful and effective tool.

But if she was an active drug user and prostitute on July 3rd, 2001, spent 36th days in jail, and was then hired on September 11th, 2001 to be a street outreach worker, I stand by my position 100%-- she was not yet through her struggle towards sobriety or stable or self-sufficiant and completely ill-equipped to be anyone's case manager or advocate and she probably shouldn't have been doing anything other than focusing on her own healing and journey.

Perhaps the phrasing in this article should be cleared up-- if all she did for the first few years is pass out fliers and tell women about a place where they could go to clean up, to get support... Well, then, that's probably fine. I'm sure she could do that. But it is implied in the P-I's article that on September 11th, 2001 she was started her new career in human services, having conquered all of her demons in less than three months.

Having been in Seattle's social work arena for over a decade, I know first hand that there are many, many programs out there that are ill-equipped to handle the services that they claim to provide. Because of Washington's lax counseling certs ($40.00 and a four hour HIV class and you, too, can be a registered counselor!), there are many people in positions that they have NO business being in, and clients suffer as a result.

I don't know-- she may be excellent. But, from previous experience, I am hesitant and skeptical. I wonder what types of Best Practices she's using, what advocacy model she has implemented, if all of the WAC's are being studied and followed, who completes the checks and balances and oversees the case management, and what type of training and ongoing education is required.

I deal with clients every day who feel disenfranchised and do not trust the system, including the human services system, because of negative experiences they have had with service providers. It is with compassion and deep, deep concern for those that we seek to assist that I look at this story with a dubious eye.

The P-I made a bad call when they profiled her... The racist undertones of the article and the underlying implication that black women are bad mothers, drug addicts, and whores is entirely unacceptable. Way to reinforce and propogate negative stereotypes, P-I, way to go.

Posted by Bigger Picture | February 26, 2007 11:33 PM

Bigger Picture,

As I said before, I don't want to start a pissing match over this.

You are correct about the caption for the photo. My apologies. I didn't pay any attention to that, but focused on the article. And nowhere in the article is there any hint that Nature regards, or refers to, herself as a social worker.

Your interpretation that Whittington wants to be social worker "like Carter-Gooding", is stretch at best and seems colored by your anger over the article itself.

Again I agree with you about the unfortunate tone of this article, but you seem to be blaming the subject of the article for its poor quality, rather than the writer and/or editor.

And, finally, although you sound like a dedicated and well-intentioned person, your comments about sobriety and the like suggest to me that you really don't get peer driven organizations.

It is not about best practices, or standards, or WACs. It is about working with individuals who are still actively using and who the mainstream big name social service agencies refuse to provide services to. The horror stories among street people are not about registered counselors (like they're going to be seeing them), but about so-called professional staff at clinics, emergency rooms, and housing providers.

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