In theory, this is an interesting idea.
Notice I said “interesting.” Not “good.”
In practice, it’s troubling. I think the kid’s intentions are not bad. But I also think he can’t get out of his own way.
The emphasis over the past few days/weeks since Jeffries’ statements hit the media has been on the “cool kids vs. not-so-cool kids” – so identifying the homeless as the “not-so-cool kids” that Jeffries intends to exclude only reinforces the stigma already applied to homeless people. It makes homeless people the butt of a joke, and that’s not ok.
I had this conversation with a friend this morning – she said, “What brought you to [the] conclusion [that he can’t see beyond his own privilege as a young white male]?”
This was my answer:
What brought me to the conclusion that he’s having difficulty stepping outside his own privilege is the fact that he doesn’t see a problem with using the homeless as a prop in his game of Takedown An Immoral CEO. That was the first tip.
Second tip was the fact that he made fun of Jeffries for the way Jeffries looks – attacking someone on their appearance when your problem with that person is that they attack people based on appearance is hypocritical and implies that he lacks a true understanding of appropriate social critique. It’s NOT, as I’m sure he believes, pointing out Jeffries’ own hypocrisy. Based on photographs I’ve seen of Jeffries, he is well-groomed, well-dressed, with white teeth, tan skin and a probably expensive haircut. I imagine he considers himself to be one of the “cool kids” that he intends to market to. So Jeffries isn’t really being a hypocrite there.
Also, did he really say “It was time to do some charity”???? I feel like “charity” is one of those words that isn’t *really* offensive, but it has a condescending connotation. You know who uses the word “charity”? The Real Housewives of Every City.
Then: “At first people were reluctant to accept the coats. Perhaps they were afraid of being perceived as narcissistic date rapists.” Ohahahaha let’s make a joke about how homeless people worry about being perceived as dbags and ignore the fact that the homeless themselves are at increased risk of violence of all types, including sexual violence. And let’s also ignore the fact that this is a population of people who suffer disproportionately from addiction, mental illness, significant health issues, and every day harrassment. I certainly would look askance at the white dude in nice clothes trying to hand me a random jacket.
But then! Suddenly! The heavens opened! And they embraced his charity wholeheartedly! And his expedition was a rampant success! I’m so glad that it was a success because golly if it wasn’t, how could he sleep at night in his warm bed?
And then the faux-modesty at the end – “I’m just one person. I can’t do it all, guys.”
And then I pointed my friend to this essay by Thomas McDonald, which is thoughtful and succinct and you really could have just read this essay instead of listening to me ramble, so sorry about that.
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