There’s not a lot of big moments, but there’s a lot of little moments that impact me when I’m in Skid Row. There are people down there who really have nothing at all. I have come to know them as friends. They invite me into their tents to let me hang out and really see who they are. They have so little, yet they’re kind enough to offer me their food and time. It amazes me to see such generosity coming from people who lack even basic essentials, many of whom have been let down by the greed in our own society.
For a long time I worked in what white suburbanites would call “bad” neighborhoods, “rough” areas, by which they usually meant majority-minority and neglected by the kind of city services that keep our nation’s cul-de-sacs clean. You know what I saw there? People. Taking their kids to school, going to work or home, socializing with their neighbors, living their lives.
We talk about poor people as if their poverty is all they are. As if their pain is all they are. We miss their love, for one another, for the community they’ve built whatever that looks like to those of us on the outside. We put them in a box and we close the lid on that box.
We talk about one another sometimes like we’re aliens, like people aren’t people, like they don’t want what they want. Stories like these make that clear, if people are willing to see.
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