Sound Excerpts

Eric Sheptock

Clip 1 – sheptock_taking_on_landlords
In this excerpt, Sheptock provides a brief analysis of the relationship he perceives between social programs, the government, and corporations. He proposes that the social services provided by the government actually serve as subsidies for corporations and employers who do not want to pay a living wage. His tone hits at an underlying aggressiveness that never completely breaks through. Instead, he sounds almost gleeful and eager at the prospect of a fight with landlords and employers.  Additionally, when Sheptock refers to landlords or employers in this clip and the rest of the interview they are portrayed as unified groups in opposition to the demands of homeless advocates. This contributes, at times, to a simplification of what is potentially a complex conflict. The picture painted is of a clear line between good (advocates) and bad (employers/landlords). The resulting message, intended or not, is that pursing profits leads to bad or irresponsible decisions and that such decisions are allowed since the market rules our society.
Clip 3 – sheptock_singing_voice
In this clip Sheptock relates his experience as a child in accompanying his parents on frequent speaking engagements. It provides excellent evidence as to how he developed such an ease with being in the spotlight. He sings a portion of this clip as an example. This tone indicates the fondness with which he remembers these presentations; a significant fact given that some might misinterpret them and his parents using these speaking engagements as exhibitions of their large family for profit or social gain.
Clip 2 – Sheptock_stereotypes
In this clip from his second interview with the DC Oral History and social justice project, Eric Sheptock’s addresses two stereotypes he thinks the housed community holds about the unhoused: first that homeless people do not use technology and secondly that they are not sociable. His tone indicates that he believes these stereotypes untrue and slightly ignorant. Yet, the examples he provides underline the lack of interaction between the unhoused and housed communities and thus reveal a potential source for such stereotypes.
Clip 4 – sheptock_getting_back_up
Here, Sheptock relates a one of his often used anecdote involving an altercation between two men – one large and one small. The story reflects a structure common for stories of the “underdog” as the small man’s tenacity, though not perceived as a threat, in the end triumphs over the “Goliath” figure. He uses the tail as a warning for the government; casting the unhoused as the small man and the government as the unaware, large victim.
Clip 6 – sheptock­_be_proactive
In this clip, paraphrases his responses to two questions about being homeless in America posed to him by a man from Serbia via Facebook. His choice to address the second question first and correct the question’s assumption of his anger about his state as an unhoused person provides insight into where Sheptock finds the drive for his advocacy efforts. The emphasis Sheptock places on identifying the questioner as Serbian and in answering the second question about the international image of America as the land of opportunity highlights his increasingly international perspective on homelessness.
Clip 5 – sheptock_dealing_with_city_hall
In this clip Sheptock expresses his perspective on how advocates need to interact with city council to get results. His choice of strong language again highlights undertones of frustration. In stressing that the unhoused need to maintain visibility in their dealings with city officials he reveals that he thinks many of their past efforts have been invisible or liminally visible to the council.  Interestingly, Sheptock uses money as the justification for why city council must listen to the demands of the unhoused. He asserts that members of the city council work for the unhoused because they are paid by tax dollars. In effect, Sheptock appropriates the very power the attributes to landlords and employers throughout the interview.

David Edwards

Clip 1: Bergman—Why Do You Think That Is?
Edwards had maintained throughout the interview that he did not believe African Americans supported each other in the way other ethnic groups did. He lamented seeing people from other nations immigrate to the United States and become successful in a way he did not believe African Americans did. In a similar manner to how he distanced himself from other homeless people, Edwards has a tendency to distance himself from other African Americans as well. Bergman felt uncomfortable with this assertion throughout the interview and finally asked Edwards the classic question, “Why do you think that is?” This clip also shows the diversity of people who live in homeless shelters.
Clip 2: Bergman—Where I Hang
As this interview was a study of homelessness in DC, Bergman was hoping to hear some stories about what it was like on the streets in DC. Edwards had moved into housing at this point and didn’t want to talk about his life on the streets very much. In this clip, Bergman and Edwards discuss alcohol abuse in the homeless community. Edwards’ desire to separate himself physically and emotionally with “people from the street” is evident throughout the interview, and illustrated clearly in this clip where he discusses camping by himself in Upper Northwest DC. A future researcher would like to know that the park Edwards is discussing is a stone’s throw from the American University campus, where Bergman is a student.
Clip 3: Bergman—The Front Seat
In this clip, David Edwards recounts a story of riding the Washington, DC streetcars and busses with his grandmother. During an era in which African Americans were forced to sit or stand in the back of the bus, Edward’s entrepreneurial grandmother took advantage of this time to advertise her cleaning services. This story, perhaps one Edwards has told his whole life, places himself and his grandmother in the larger context of the Civil Rights movement. This clip illustrates Bergman’s inability to laugh quietly, but ability to build rapport. Edward’s fist pounding the table punctuates many sentences.
Clip 4: Bergman—The Beer Can
In this clip, Edwards discusses his shift from working in construction to working in the technology field. Edwards does not discuss alcohol or drug use until later in the interview, when asked by Bergman if that was a problem he had seen on the streets. The fact that many Americans perceive homeless people to be drunks is complicated by Edward’s story of working in a factory that manufactured beer cans. Edwards juxtaposes the robotic and human hands that manufacture beer cans, describing it as “an art form.”
Clip 5: Bergman—Free District ‘C’ & Me
Edwards’ poetry is indicative of the changes in his life. Edwards began his work history as a man who worked with his hands in trades, then moved to more technical pursuits like computer technology, and now considers himself to be a poet and a novelist. Despite Edwards’ natural aptitude for technology and other similar pursuits, poetry is his passion. Edwards’ life changing advice from a social worker to “write it all down” resulted in a closer examination of his life and the decisions he had made that had gotten him to where he was. Poetry serves as a way for Edwards to express himself and move others. He connects his personal struggle to that of the District of Columbia.
Clip 6: Bergman—Divorce
Nearly halfway through the interview, Bergman is finally starting to get it. First, she asked how late the shelters were open, and what was to happen to someone who worked an overnight shift. Edwards revealed he had worked an overnight shift after the breakdown of his marriage. Unable to stay in shelters and sleep during the day, Edwards slept in his car overnight. This is a good example of getting at a person’s more personal history without directly asking them about it. Edward’s love of storytelling is evident in this clip.

Robert Warren

Clip 1: Warren_transportation
Robert Warren discusses the problems the homeless have meeting their everyday needs without ready access to transportation.

Nkechi Feaster

Clip 1: Feaster_importance_of_downtown
In this clip, Nkechi Feaster addresses why it is so important to have a centrally located shelter in Washington, DC.  In particular, she makes the case for keeping a shelter on 2nd Street NW.

Terry Lewis

Clip 1: Lewis_being_homeless_in_nwdc
Lewis remembers he and his brother coming to northwest DC after becoming homeless in the 1980s.  He recalls that southeast had no shelters at the time.


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