All her life, Sugar Turner has had to hustle to survive. An African American woman living in the inner city, she has been a single mother juggling welfare checks, food stamps, boyfriends and husbands, illegal jobs, and home businesses to make ends meet for herself and her five children. Her life's path has also wandered through the wilderness of crack addiction and prostitution, but her strong faith in God and her willingness to work hard for a better life pulled her through. Today, Turner is off welfare and is completing her education. She is computer literate, holds a job in the local school system, has sent three of her children to college, and is happily married.
In this engrossing book, Sugar Turner collaborates with anthropologist Tracy Bachrach Ehlers in telling her story. Through conversations with Ehlers, diary entries, and letters, Turner vividly and openly describes all aspects of her life, including motherhood, relationships with men, welfare and work, and her attachment to her friends, family, and life in the "hood." Ehlers also gives her reactions to Turner's story, discussing not only how it belies the "welfare queen" stereotype, but also how it forced her to confront her own lingering confusions about race, her own bigotry.
What emerges from this book is a fascinating story of two women from radically different backgrounds becoming equal witnesses to each other's lives. By allowing us into the real world of an inner-city African American mother, they replace with compassion and insight the stereotypes, half-truths, and scorn that too often dominate public discourse.