Did you realize that among the 20,000 young individuals transitioning out of foster care annually upon reaching the age of eighteen, a staggering 40% will grapple with homelessness within just three years? This stark reality casts a shadow over the lives of individuals like Elliott Glover, who narrowly escaped the same fate. However, homelessness is just one piece of a much larger puzzle. Tragically, this vulnerable group also faces disproportionately high rates of pregnancy, substance abuse, exploitation through sex trafficking, incarceration, and even premature death.
Elliott entered my life just five weeks ago. While on vacation in Florida, I got a message requesting me to read and review a new book. I almost begged off, but instead I invited the writer to resend his request upon my return from Sarasota. A few weeks later, he sent the .pdf version of his book along with a winsome cover note. When I read that his memoir describes three Black boys whose mother was unable to care for them, leaving them vulnerable to the vagaries of the child welfare system, I was intrigued. I wanted to know more. My heart was touched by the cover.
After I read the book, I wanted to know more about the author. I explored his website and the podcast that features him and his brother Iszel. I found myself pulled into more episodes of the podcast than I anticipated, marveling at the way the Glover boys attracted people of all races, social classes, and cultural backgrounds. There’s something about this story that makes you want to participate.
So I did. I invited Elliott to do a Zoom interview with me so that I can share his story with you. Meet him below in this chat:
Elliott exudes a comfort in his own skin that comes from processing his past with the eyes and ears of an artist. He has done the work of the memoirist — sorting, sifting, probing, questioning his own life. He has studied the system that shaped him, and he wants to use his talents to help others who are growing up in similar circumstances. You won’t be surprised to learn that he is in the process of setting up a foundation to help young people as they age out of the system, and that profits from the sale of his book will go to the foundation.
Elliott’s skills as a story teller reminded me of two other works of art that have enriched my thinking and understanding during Black History Month. The first was the new biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Jonathan Eig.
I also watched the movie Origin, written and directed by Ava DuVernay. I highly recommend this viewing experience.
All of these experiences of reading and watching have made me aware of the distance we have come as a nation regarding race and caste — and even more of the great challenges we still have not overcome.
But I do know this. Making a new friend across the color line is perhaps the best way to celebrate Black History month. I hope you have the opportunity to do the same. One way to do so is to buy this book!
Do you have any experience with the child welfare system? I’d love to hear your story. Elliott will be happy to respond to any of your questions about the system, his book, and his podcast, in the comment section if you care to share.*
Also, do you have any recommendations for other books, museums, experiences for Black History Month?