Confronting the Stigma of Homelessness

Confronting the Stigma of Homelessness

“Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well- warmed, and well-fed.”

― Herman Melville


                  Many of us have watched Jimmy Kimmel “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets” segments and laughed.  These segments suggest that we need to be reminded that celebrities are real people, too.  Unfortunately, some people must be reminded of the humanity of homeless people, too.  Canada’s Raising the Roof, an organization that works for long term solutions to homelessness, created a video this month with a more serious take on mean tweets.  In this eye-opening video, homeless people read the ignorant tweets I’m sure we’ve all seen on our twitter feeds.  One woman tears up reading “I was enjoying a latte when I saw a hobo girl across the street.  I almost vomited.  Get back on your side of the bridge, no one likes you.”  This type of ignorance and dehumanization is exactly why Raising the Roof began their interactive webpage, where you can learn about the experiences of those living on the street or in shelters.  This type of conversation is extremely valuable; it is too easy to distance ourselves from the homeless and needy.  By forming relationships and understanding the struggles and needs of those around us, we can connect to our communities in a more profound way. 

The videos bust myths by directly confronting them.  One man reads, “All homeless bums are loser, drug addict drunks.”  This idea is popular, yet vastly untrue.  Although a majority of homeless people report drug use, in many situations substance abuse is a result- rather than a cause- of homelessness.  There are often many underlying reasons that push people onto the street, including mental illness, disability, abuse, and financial bad luck.  The video works to reveal the discrimination that homeless people experience daily.  One woman says “Someone who’s homeless goes on a bus, and immediately people move away from them.”  The stigma of homelessness is not just discouraging, but it often perpetuates the cycle of unemployment and financial problems. 

By clicking through the interviews, the watcher can come closer to understanding the battle that homeless people fight every day.  Athletes C.A.R.E. works to make even more profound connections with our community.  The athletes have traveled to Philadelphia to bring food for homeless and needy citizens and held many successful drives and fundraisers for local shelters.  Athletes C.A.R.E. promotes the creation of healthy relationships between communities and those who are needy.  As college students, we are “Well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed”, and we must work to dispel the stigma against those who are less privileged. 

For more uplifting tweets than the “mean tweets” above, follow @athletesCARE1!!