TEDxMileHigh – Bobby Lefebre – Social Worker

Translator: Helena Bowen
Reviewer: Denise RQ When I tell people what I do for a living they often respond by saying things like, "Bless your soul, that must be difficult," and my all time favorite, "It's so nice to see someone
not working for the money." (Laughter) I'm a social worker. I attended the wounds of people
crucified to circumstance. Carry hope and band-aids in my briefcase, share my own scars for street cred. I work with kids who see
their probation officers more than their fathers. They wear sagging pants
and their parents' mistakes. Introduce themselves
as accidents waiting to happen; they are a Hollyhood
casting director's wet dream. Tattooed with a temper, do-ragged D-boys,
Boyz n the Hood, mi vida loca. They speak in sign language because they have been taught
they are voiceless. Marginalization is the chip
on their shoulder. It is so heavy they walk with a limp,
pass it off as swag. Their fingers, more familiar with pipes
than pencils, eyes smoked closed, paint their world view the color of devils
as they search for God, or anyone else they can just look up to. Each one has a story. Emilio wants to change, so he keeps
a lucky penny in his pants pocket along with the quarter I gave him
to call with whenever he is in need. In the desperation of his 15-year-old eyes I see more potential than an idea
Rivera never manifested on a canvas. He makes the city his. Scribes pieces of his soul into windows not knowing his pain
is as transparent as the glass. Sprays a masked moniker
underneath street lamps so he always shines brighter
than the darkness of his insecurities. He left his self-esteem
next to a cigarette butt at the bottom of a bottle
bought by relatives who see no problem feeding fires. He screams in spontaneous combustion, but believes nobody is listening,
so he commits another crime. He likes going to court, because there, at least he knows that someone
is paying attention to his sentences. I am his social worker
attempting to make sense of his syntax. He didn't fall through the cracks;
they swallowed him. I have seen it happen in broad daylight. Sun turning the other cheek
cowering behind the clouds. Concrete quicksand
traps youth like Venus fly. Homies who claim to have backs,
front, offering no help, and so many of our kids are sinking. Emilio asks me for direction, but there is only one way
to go from where he is. I show him his heartbeat is his compass. We look at the scars on his psyche, I ask if he is ready to replace them
with dirt underneath his fingernails; he asks me how
he is supposed to escape the sand. I remind him he cannot ask
for one to guide his footsteps if he is not willing
to move his feet first. I speak in cliches; talk of butterflies
and phoenixes, and of hip hop, and of so many ugly things
that have bloomed into beauty. I speak in truths; I tell him
I don't know if things will be OK. I show him statistics are stalking him
and prisons plan housewarming parties. I tell him the streets, they don't change,
but I know that people do. Hope is not a helium balloon
that's slipped from our fingertips; we do not have to watch
potential float away. I am a social worker. I work with kids who learn
to spell stigma before their first names. But each one is an artist learning to draw
their own conclusions. Their pencils are heavy burdens
built without erasers on purpose, because sometimes the best thing
you can do is not go back. I am a social worker, and no,
I don't do it for the money. I do it simply because
I still believe in people, and I really hope that you, and you,
and you, and you, and you, and all of you, still do too. (Applause) Thank you. (Applause)

44 thoughts on “TEDxMileHigh – Bobby Lefebre – Social Worker”

  1. Woooooow this lector has so strong opinion about the workers, that I cant stop listening. 1M best regards for your working team.

  2. Best speech. More like a spoken poetry; if i haven’t seen the meme first I would’ve cried

  3. So many people are analyzing his delivery, repeated use of the words, heavy breathing instead of listening to his message and enjoying his artistry with words. Most of you wouldn't come close delivering an inspiration speech nor could compose half a paragraph as well-thought out as his speech, yet want to feel superior by pointing out useless things that don't take away from the message he is trying to convey. I guess people forget the saying "don't throw stone if you live in a glass house."

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