Lets Take an Oath to End Homelessness
How we are going to change the social fabric of our society
As fellow citizens of the United States of America, do we care about the suffering of our homeless citizens? Frequently, when walking in the city of Baltimore, I notice how many people, including myself, walk by the homeless as if they are not there. I feel that my actions are degrading towards the humanity of the homeless but still I continue to practice this behavior again and again.
This blissful ignorance towards homeless people suffering as justified by our neoliberalism social infrastructure. In America, we celebrate those who have climbed the ladder of the social hierarchy and have risen above the challenges set before them. Through the lens of symbolic violence, we excuse these individuals of the dominant social class from seeing themselves as part of the social issue. Instead, we unjustly blames those who are suffering from the problem for not being self-sufficient. To illustrate, often I hear people excuse themselves from caring about homeless people by claiming that assisting them only enables their homeless lifestyle .
This assumption is inherited in the collective consciousness of our culture. First introduced by sociologist Emily Durkheim, in his book The Division of Labor, the collective conscious is how we debate what is morally right or wrong. This sense of individualism and self-reliance is ingrained in our collective consciousness as a nation. What identifies Americans as a social group is our shared set of values ,such as, having a strong work ethic, competitive nature, and valuing independence. Those who threaten this sense of identity are the aniome. The aniome lack social and ethical standards of another culture. In this case, the dominant class has classified the homeless as the aniome due to their inability to live a life acceptable to the American social standards.
To overcome this issue, we must first collectively agree as a society and as individuals that we play a role in the issue of homelessness. In our media, we must identify ways in which we contribute to the problem, create an understanding of how individuals become and stay homeless, and act upon making a change in our social fabric. For example, in Baltimore City, a hidden contributor to its homelessness problem is gentrification. The demolition and renewal of lower income neighborhoods displaces the working class from their homes. This stimulation of affordable housing leaves the working-class citizens with housing options that are unaffordable on the working-class budget. According to an article published by Affordable Housing Finance, in the state of Maryland to obtain a one bedroom apartment you need to make at least $16.35 per hour. This is contradictory to the $8.75 per hour minimum wage in the state of Maryland.
As citizens, we need to advocate to increasing the minimum wage and find ways to improve low income neighborhoods without the displacing its homeowners. Ignoring a homeless person on the street corner will not make the suffering that exist in our society disappear. If we truly value equality in this country, we need to work together as a nation to make sure everyone has access to equal opportunity and eliminate class division.