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Homeless Kids and Their Parents Vs. The World

I wanted to say, “Yeah, capitalism sucks! Power to the People! Eat the Rich!? or *something* to let that kid know that the shame was on the part of a rich, capitalist America that lets its poor go hungry and homeless, not on the poor. It is corporate greed that is responsible for homelessness. He did not need to convince me that his mom worked 24/7 just for them to survive. I know poverty is more than a full-time job.
Homeless Kids and Their Parents Vs. The World
By Kirsten Anderberg (www.kirstenanderberg.com)

I walked by a vacant lot of overgrown weeds today, in a suburban neighborhood of American single-family homes. The lot had a camper parked on it, with some things scattered around the front of the camper. A woman in her 40’s came out of the camper, followed by a young boy about 12 years old. They were talking and interacting, but when I walked by, and the boy saw me, I saw shame all of a sudden come over his face.

I wanted to say, “Yeah, capitalism sucks! Power to the People! Eat the Rich!? or *something* to let that kid know that the shame was on the part of a rich, capitalist America that lets its poor go hungry and homeless, not on the poor. It is corporate greed that is responsible for homelessness. He did not need to convince me that his mom worked 24/7 just for them to survive. I know poverty is more than a full-time job. I wanted that kid to be proud, not ashamed, that he had survived in the face of poverty. I wanted him to see me *respecting* his mom. As Tupac Shakur said, if society rewarded high morals, his family would be rich. Many a good, hard-working family has struggled in poverty, while being called “freeloaders? and “lazy? by the very people who rip off the profits of their labor to keep them poor!

I cannot forget the haunting look the boy had in his eyes today. A look of internalized oppression, of shame, a desire to hide, and be invisible, for that moment. Even when someone who is *not* judging him negatively, but is instead loving him, walks by. I understand his emotional armor. Due to the way society treats the poor and homeless, the children of homeless adults often adopt a me-and-you against the world attitude. Hiding their family’s homelessness from authorities, sleeping on the run, in one “illegal? place after another, homeless kids learn early to abhor police, and how to protect their parents from police and social workers, which is a huge responsibility for a young child. Many schools do not allow homeless kids to enroll. Many welfare offices refuse services to the homeless.

Remember Elizabeth Smart? She was kidnapped from her expensive home, and they finally found her living on the streets in Utah with a crazed homeless man and woman after a nationwide search for her? I saw an interview with her once she was back on her rolling acres of ranch property with her horses, back in her privileged lifestyle, playing her harp again. And one thing she said really stood out. I believe it was Jane Pauley, who asked her what she had learned from the ordeal of being kidnapped. And Elizabeth’s answer was stunning. She said she’s learned it is really hard to be homeless. She said you are hungry and cold all the time. I found it interesting that out of all of the mean things this kid could have said right then about the man and woman who kidnapped her, generalizing that the homeless are dangerous, she had instead seen compassion through all that, and had seen a glimpse of poverty that hopefully she will never forget. She said she did not understand *why* the people were homeless, but she did know it was horribly hard, so they must not *want* to be homeless. Elizabeth Smart came from a family with money. So when they found her homeless on the street, she was whisked back to a big warm estate, with a loving family, all the food she could want, and a nation happy for her rescue. But every day little girls just like Elizabeth Smart go to sleep hungry and cold, and there is no nationwide search on for them, and they will not be brought home to a big warm estate. Additionally, they are hiding, and protecting their parents. And when you look at them, often times, you see adult pain in their eyes. Being a kid of a homeless adult, in a society that stigmatizes homeless people, has special obligations and traumas, that can grow a soul up real fast.
 
 


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