I am one of the most grateful people in Atlanta in this moment.
I sit back and relax, because I know I have everything others want. Let me lay it down for you:
I am 21, an undergraduate student (with a rocking GPA), and I am perfectly content with how the world turns. Nope, no real complaints (for today, anyway). I have a part-time job in a restaurant, a professional AND paid internship, an amazing dog, three wonderful room mates, and a plethora of supportive and caring friends. To top it all off, I have a family who will take care of me if I needed it. I really have nothing to complain about, right?
It took me so long to be able to accomplish everything I have done to this point. I feel like working my way from literally the bottom (poor, unemployed, and lonely) to the top has served my character in amazing ways. I think all this adds to my credibility.
Let's get started, for real.
How come people can not help others more? Don't get me wrong, there are so many people who do more good things for others than themselves. As selfless as those people are, there are just as many selfish people. Let's see Atlanta, we are considered one of the worst cities for the homeless population, and we have some of the highest amounts of homeless women and children. Who's to blame? Everyone. I would like to plaster the streets and skies with messages that will encourage people to donate, volunteer or something that might benefit someone other than themselves. For those of you who already do good, I know the people who have been helped could not be more appreciative. Anyway, how pathetic is it to ignore a homeless person on the streets?
Do you think you're better? Do you think you know more? Do you think they did it to themselves? Do you think they're all crack heads? Do you think they want to be there?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, I'd like you to exit this blog post- because you are an uneducated fool. Homeless people can not be categorized or stereotyped. It's just as bad as being racist or sexist. Most homeless people can not control their situation once they're in it.I've met a handful of them who have never touched a drug in their lives, but have merely fallen into some bad luck. It's tragic to watch a grown man cry because he lost his job and consequently, his home too. Fred (name change for confidentiality purposes) described some of the worst things my ears have ever heard. He talked of how cold he was some nights, how he couldn't feel his hands or feet. His lips were actually blue when I met him. He was sleeping in Atlanta when we had snow, and he was not inside. His strength to make it through each day was dwindling, until he got help.
I just can't ramble enough about how wretched it is to overlook the homeless population. I can say that the majority of the people in Atlanta who are homeless don't actually want to be. They just can't get out of it because of how poor the system is. It was brought to my attention recently that some homeless people who stay in shelters can't even get a job. Some shelters enforce curfews, which prevents someone from working past 7 p.m. sometimes. How can we expect a homeless man to become self-sufficient if he has no means of getting a job?? Something is failing in the Atlanta system, and we have to figure out what to do about it.
I also would like to comment on an article written by a male journalist for the AJC. It was about sex trafficking. Unfortunately, Atlanta ranked in the top 10 for human trafficking. Instead of truly writing from a non-biased perspective, this author put a pretty sexist twist on it. The title instantly takes the blame and places it on the children and young women involved by calling them prostitutes. Does anyone associate the word prostitute with anything good? Or guilt-free? Or healthy? Or innocent? NO! How about: Sex trafficking is still a major factor in Atlanta. Probably something more riveting than that, but certainly not placing blame on female victims by calling them prostitutes. Thanks, Steve from the AJC for sharing your sexist views with Atlanta. If you were a real journalist, you’d do some more/better research. Maybe you could start a mini-series, similar to the one about crack cocaine use in Atlanta- written in 1998. Shine a light on the HUGE problem Atlanta faces rather than taking away the spirit of the situation.
There is a huge correlation between sex trafficking and homeless women and children. No surprise there, though. Alas, it's time for a change. But I sigh at this thought, because it's something that I can't do alone, nor want to. I want everyone to make a difference. It's hard when no one cares.