Re: ?

P. Myers (
Sat, 4 Apr 1998 11:46:33 -0800 (PST)

Virginia, I think you did a great job of turning that question on it's
head...where it belongs.

Indeed, if we consent to keeping the "problem" focus on marginalized
(homeless, people of color, aged, dis-abled, women, poor, etc.) then we
tend to think, even liberals, in terms of making programs that *do *to
such populations, eventually allowing those with vested interest to sell
*their view of marginalized folks as, not folks with problems, *problem
*folks...big difference, and thus far the public has been buying the idea
that marginalization and oppression are acceptable consequences for those
who *choose to be different, rather than those who are "differented."

Simply put, it's victim-blaming behavior to consider people on the streets
there because they want to be, or deserve to be, and must then be "helped"
withou or without their consent, and certainly without their input (since
"they" would have assimilated long ago if there weren't something wrong
with *them, or *their culture, or *their mothers, or *their family
structure, or *their inability to defer gratification, or *their choices
(which of course are as broad and comprehensive as any middle class white
in the US...yada yada yada.  And liberals are as likely to do this as are
conservatives...just from another perspective...
I *applaude your presence of mind to speak to the reality of "the
Problem:"  a society that benefits from the very poor and the perceived

We need to demand and demand and demand a good long listen from society...
and then a restructuring of how "help" gets dispensed...and by whom, and
for whom.

Pat Myers

P.S.  I brought up the issue of "poverty pimping" in a Social Welfare
class (me, the only not-MSW in the group) yesterday.  The teacher, who is
a good, radical man, said "Yes, and if you are a pimp, what do you need?"

I responded "outreach workers."  The class exploded in laughter, until
they began to realize the accuracy of the analogy.

Later, a member of Urban Safari gave me another take on this
conceptualization:  the *agency is the pimp, and the outreach worker or
social worker the prostitute (one who is desperate enough to do anything
s/he is told, to survive).

I will bring his perception to the next meeting...or talk to them

Anyway, great job, V!  Pat 8)

On Fri, 27 Mar 1998, Virginia Sellner wrote:

> Here is a question for you -- I had a tv station interview me today and ask
> what do you forsee as problems with the homeless in Cheyenne this summer.
> AND I told them I do not see any problems with the homeless in Cheyenne this
> summer.  BECAUSE the homeless ARE NOT A PORBLEM.  Some of the merchants,
> media etc. in Cheyenne THINK the homeless are a problem and so THEY the
> merchants and media make it a problem when it is not one and does not have
> to be one.  IF a person lives in a house and has a mental illness, is low
> income, or down on their luck the community does not look at them as tho
> THEY are a problem.  But rather they have a problem and maybe they can help.
> WHY oh WHY can't they see that they (they being the housed and the
> establishment or what ever) make a problem out of something that really
> should not be called a problem -- the homeless should just be people with a
> problem who need help and how can we help them or better yet how do THEY
> want people to help or provide to get them out of the situation?  This issue
> is like so many other issues -- I guess it is a problem, but when the media
> says what kind of PROBLEMS do you expect? Then people start looking for
> problems that are not there and if they see a person with a pack or someone
> who isn't dressed up to par (tho' that is hard to find in Wyoming since most
> everyone wears jeans and tee shirts everywhere and no one dresses up) then
> they think the person is going to be a problem, and of course eventually one
> develops, but not becasue the homeless person did anything -- but because
> the other person thought they were a problem and responded in a way that the
> homeless person perhaps responded back negatively, but if it had been a
> positivie thing to begin with no problem would have developed.  Does this
> make sense?  What the media had to say made me mad and I hope they know it
> --  Virginia

"To live dangerously is to live
in the Borderland, where desire,
justice and love meet."
                    Henry Giroux