The cover story in the June issue of Street Speech asks what sounds like a loaded question with an easy answer. With more than 50 U.S. cities placing a ban on feeding the homeless, it's clear that disdain for the poor is widespread.
But Street Speech editor Jess Peacock doesn't ask, "Do they hate the poor?" He poses the question to us. We all bear collective responsibility for allowing the conditions that cause poverty and homelessness to exist. The article is an invitation to self-reflection, to consider how our own attitudes and assumptions about homeless people perpetuate the problem.
Peacock also proposes a Homeless Bill of Rights for Columbus to address the criminalization of homelessness. The June issue also includes an excellent article by Caitlin Seida about making assumptions and passing judgement: "Don't Tell Me How to Be Poor."
When you see a Street Speech vendor downtown or in your neighborhood, stop and say hello, donate a dollar (or several), and get yourself a copy.
"Street Speech vendors are not panhandlers," Jess Peacock writes. "They are licensed through the CCH, which is in turn licensed and approved by the City of Columbus to commission vendors to provide Street Speech to the community for a donation.
"Put another way, Street Speech vendors are working. They are performing a job that, for many of them, pays the rent, feeds the kids, or in some other way helps to keep their heads above the metaphorical deep waters of homelessness and poverty."
Street Speech is a monthly social justice newspaper published in Columbus since March 2008. To get an annual subscription mailed to your home, send a $20 donation (check or money order) to Columbus Coalition for the Homeless, 1015 East Main Street, Suite 200, Columbus, Ohio 43205. Include your email address and you'll also receive a PDF copy of the newspaper each month.