Myths about homelessness (Montpelier, VT)
by Morgan W. Brown •
Wednesday December 11, 2002 at 01:38 AM
Reprinted from The Homeless Guy blog
Among the many negative (as if there are any that are positive) stereotypes concerning people who are homeless (or any other perceived or actual group of people for that matter), which is probably more deeply cynical as well as the one that does some of the most prolonged damage, is the opinion that they generally lack an articulate voice of their own and therefore cannot be expected to speak intelligently and powerfully for themselves.
This mindset dictates that people who are homeless most certainly are not able to advocate and take the lead either on their own or on their peers behalf. In fact it is frightening how many people living homeless there are whom too often and so easily believe this about themselves as well.
Yet when people who are homeless speak up for themselves or for their peers and what they need, they can find themselves being quickly slapped down or simply blown off in various ways time and time again.
Sometimes when people who are homeless speak out, they can find themselves being treated, regarded and portrayed as either the one and only, the hero or, the overcomer type(s): as if what they are doing is not the norm and therefore unique or, is an amazing, heroic, accomplishment "for someone who is homeless" or, as if they are someone to be pitied, patted on the head and, at best, maybe given a star to wear on their forehead for accomplishing (or even attempting) something either more or better than was ever expected.
When someone persists in speaking up however, they are often ignored, belittled, punished, scorned, told they are being inappropriate or said to be outspoken.
This in a nation prizing self-determination. Ironically, it seems that when either an individual or a group of people become or just want to remain self-determining, they are somehow expected to do it completely on their own, even against the most impossible of odds (e.g., in isolation).
Though not intended as such, if the tone or manner of the above comes across as being offensive, etc.: imagine how it comes across to people living homeless when they are treated like this, or even worse, in one form or another on an ongoing basis by countless people as well as a society, which would never stand for being treated in these ways themselves.
Morgan W. Brown is a writer and activist living homeless in Montpelier, Vermont, USA.
Morgan recently joined Kevin Barbieux as a contributing writer and blogger on The Homeless Guy blog (i.e., Blog or Web Log; an online journal or diary).
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