Friday, January 28, 2005

Homeless White Guys

There sure are a lot of homeless white guys here in Toronto. Homeless white guys sleeping in doorways. Homeless white guys laying on benches. Homeless white guys sitting on hot air grates in the middle of the sidewalk, their shoulders hunched, their faces blank, their filthy fingers clutching a salvaged cigarette butt. Homeless white guys shuffling down the alleys desperately begging for that last quarter so they can buy a $5 bottle of wine. The homeless white guys are freaking everywhere.

Oh, did I mention that almost all the homeless people I see are guys and white? I did? Oh. OK.

I didn’t mean to make too fine a point of it. And I guess subtlety is not my strong suit, but I’m having a hard time finding the homeless Chinese women, the homeless Iranian men or the homeless Pakistani people. They must be out there somewhere. After all Canada is a multicultural tapestry. A place where the ‘Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ guarantees that everyone is treated equally regardless of their ethnicity, color or place of origin.

So, I must express my outrage that, here in our wonderful tolerant inclusive nation, where diversity in all things is celebrated, we have this unique and exclusive social position - homelessness – monopolized by a handfull of White Canadian men.

How despicable. How bigoted and utterly misogynistic, eh? Imagine the gall of those evil, sexist, racist white men to think that they can hog all the homelessness to themselves. Clearly, in the interest of multiculturalism, gender equity and fairness to all, something must be done.

So, as usual, I am here to suggest a solution – a ludicrously simple and obvious solution, in fact - to this unacceptable social inequity.

I propose that all levels of government immediately cease providing grants and monetary assistance to groups that help only women or minorities. I understand that Toronto alone dishes out over one hundred million dollars a year in such grants. Grants to fund ethnic social clubs and cultural events. Grants to fund feminist groups. Grants to help immigrants settle and members of certain cultures and ethnic backgrounds find housing.

No grants for white Canadian men though. Weird huh?

And if you happen to be living in a foreign nation, just hop on a plane or boat and come on down. The minute you land on our soil our government will find someplace for you to live. There are no homeless refugees here in Canada. They at least get a motelroom to live in. Apparently, in order to ascend to the prestigious social level of ‘homelessness' here in Canada, you have to be a white Canadian resident.

Anyway, I digress. Where was I, Oh yes - we need to cut off all the grant money.

After the grants and gifts of money stop flowing to all the non-male, non-white recipients, I predict that we’ll see a few more women and people of diverse cultures sharing the street with all those homeless white guys.

We could then track the progress of this initiative for a year or two and keep close count of the number of homeless women and non-white people in relation to the number of homeless white guys. Then, once the appropriate balance has been struck - where all identifiable groups and ethnicities, and all genders and sexual persuasions are represented on the street - we could slowly start shelling out grants again. Strategically. Carefully. So as not to disturb the carefully crafted homeless balance on the street. And oh yes, we’ll make sure we include gay and trans-gendered persons too. No one will be excluded. There's room for all on the streets of Toronto.

There will, of course, be one big difference with the new grant system. Some of the money will be geared to white Canadian guys to give them a small taste of the type of support that everyone else has been receiving for years. This will help keep those white Canadian male buggers off the street. After all, we wouldn’t want to return to the racist, bigoted homeless situation we had before – where white guys dominated the scene and everyone else was excluded. That just wouldn't be fair.

Author's Note:

OK. I know. I know - Homelessness is a complex problem and the allocation of government funding is not the sole reason why so many of Toronto’s homeless people are white guys. For example, there are also cultural considerations. Many minority cultures, especially newcomers, typically have larger families than established Canadians and thus have a larger support system to fall back on. They also seem to have a stronger sense of community and loyalty towards each other than us spoiled, self-absorbed, indifferent Canadian whites. Many actually let their parents live with them when they get old rather than shunt them off to a retirement home. Imagine! They also often take in people of their own background who need a place to stay. Maybe us spoiled white Canadians are so used to government taking care of us that we’ve lost the ability to look out for each other. Or maybe it's the fact that most white Canadians have no cultural identity whatsoever and feel no loyalty or affinity to other white Canadians.

Anyway, despite the complexities of the problem, I know one thing for certain – If there were a couple thousand Chinese women or Tamil men living on the streets of Toronto, there would be such an outcry from their respective tax subsidized communities that the government would be forced to act immediately.

As it is, most homeless people are only garden-variety, off-the-shelf, run-of-the-mill, white Canadian guys. They have no tax funded community groups to champion their cause or help them out. That’s why the government doesn’t care about them. That's why Canadians don't care about them. And that's why they remain homeless and abandoned.


Blogger Orly said...

Just because you don't see homeless people with trendy haircuts and flashy accessories doesn't mean it's the straight white men that are over represented.

"The most alarming social aspect of those experiencing homelessness is the number of those who consider themselves bisexual, lesbian, gay, and/or transgender. Recent numbers suggest that of the homeless youth, nearly 40% "identify [themselves] as lesbian, gay, bisexual and/ or transgender.” A January 2007 report by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force suggest several reasons for the skewed numbers of LGBT homeless youth. LGBT youth are often forced from their homes by families disparate over their "sexual orientation or gender identity.” They also cite experiencing "discrimination, harassment and violence" at homeless shelters from "service providers" and take refuge on the streets. Lastly, LGBT youth are an at risk group for "mental health issues and substance abuse" and thus more prone to poverty."

12:35 PM  

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