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How Stereotypes Hurt the Homeless

Updated on March 15, 2015
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I have a B.A. in English with a minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies. I've been a Goth since age fourteen, and a Pagan since age fifteen.

"Homeless Man In Edinburgh Stock Photo" Published on 28 July 2014 Stock Photo - Image ID: 100277568
"Homeless Man In Edinburgh Stock Photo" Published on 28 July 2014 Stock Photo - Image ID: 100277568 | Source

Have you ever been/Are you homeless?

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There are many social issues society refuses to understand unless they have been there. When this happens, stereotypes are created to distract the public from the real problem -- they need everyone's help. Homelessness is one of those misunderstood issues people would rather not think about; however, ignorance is the real sustainer of any social problem. Knowledge and action are the keys to solving the problem. The more people educate themselves on the real causes of things such as homelessness the more likely we are to decrease the numbers impacted by it.

Have you seen "The Pursuit of Happyness?"

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The Pursuit of Happyness

The film The Pursuit of Happyness is based on the true story of Chris Gardner's personal experience with homelessness. Many outsiders like to think homeless people are just lazy. Chris Gardner was trying to make money with a job that didn't give him much of a guarantee for income; therefore, he took a chance by trying to find a better job that would give him financial stability. At the same time, his wife had left him, taking their son with her. Later, she left their son with him after not being able to fulfill her duties as a mother. Chris did everything he could for his son, but it meant staying in different places, including a subway bathroom. Chris worked harder than most of the others in an unpaid internship to become a stockbroker, and it landed him the job. If more outsiders knew of stories such as this one they would stop looking down on the homeless.

My So-Called Life

In the series My So-Called Life Ricky becomes homeless in the episode "So-Called Angels." Not all of the details are explained, but it is obvious he has an abusive parent. Meanwhile, Angela's mother, Patty doesn't want her daughter to hang around homeless people or think of them as being like her. It isn't until Patty is forced to acknowledge that homelessness can happen to anyone that her prejudice ends, and she allows Ricky to stay in her house. Having characters like Ricky changes the minds of those who don't think about the kids affected by homelessness, or figure homelessness is only something that happens to certain people. Most who end up homeless are not lazy or did something wrong to deserve their situation.

How do you respond when a seemingly homeless person asks for change?

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Social Experiments

Social experiments assist to determine a general outlook on social issues such as society's response to homelessness. In the following video, a homeless man dresses in a suit, asking for change. As a presumed business man, people on the street were more than willing to help him out. Then, he dresses as himself, asking for change. As a presumed homeless man, nobody would even acknowledge him. These results tell us that people are only sympathetic to those in their same situation. It becomes clear when a fellow homeless man tries to give the man change while dressed in a suit; therefore, unless someone has been homeless they are less likely to help someone who is struggling.

© 2014 social thoughts


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