She believed you could be poor without appearing poor, so Raphael Richmond, 41, attached her eyelash extensions, straightened her auburn wig and sprayed her neck with perfume as she reached for another cigarette. "For my nerves," she explained, even though doctors already had written eight prescriptions to help her combat the wears of stress. She blew smoke into the living room and waited until her eldest daughter, Tiara, 22, descended the stairs in new sneakers and a flat-brimmed baseball cap.
"I look okay?" Tiara asked.
"Fresh and proper," Raphael said, and then they left to stand in line for boxes of donated food and day-old bread.
It was Thursday, which meant giveaways at a place called Bread for the City. Fridays were free medical care at the clinic in Southeast Washington. Saturdays were the food pantry at Ambassador Baptist Church. The 1st of each month was a disability check, the 2nd was government cash assistance and the 8th was food stamps. "November FREEBIES," read a flier attached to their fridge, a listing of daily handouts that looked the same as October's freebies, and September's freebies, and the schedule of dependency that had helped sustain Raphael's family for three generations and counting.
Please leave a comment in the post and try to be as honest as possible. If you aren't comfortable leaving your name try and at least include where you live. I am interested to hear perspectives from people who live within Ward 8 and out of it.
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