Ed. Note: This new series will appear every Friday.
Person First Project is a photo blog that seeks to give those currently or formerly experiencing homelessness in D.C. the chance to share their stories. In doing this, we hope to reduce the barriers that separate people in D.C. and spark a dialogue. The Person First Project aims to connect us – and to make us all feel a bit more human.
“This guy saw a group of black people sleeping outside and approached us asking for drugs. Well, we don’t sell drugs and we don’t use drugs so we had no answers for him, but he sat with us anyway. He was a doctor and he was all upset because he takes home $3,500 a month, but that’s only half his salary because the other half goes to student loans. We couldn’t believe it! Any one of use would’ve taken that situation and been happy with it. Hey man – the college career you’re paying for is going to earn you millions! And you’re complaining to us, asking us why we’re out here? Man, you don’t understand.
The biggest problem with this country is isolationism. In DC, the privileged communities encapsulate themselves – they build condos and everything they need so they don’t have to blend into the community, and then they move the underprivileged people out so they don’t have to intermingle. Afterwards, the privileged people sit together and talk about the exact same things that we underprivileged people talk about. The issue is that since we don’t all sit together to talk, we’re going to each end up with our own separate opinions.
Privileged people might get together, maybe have some coffee and tea and then talk about how to solve our problems, but the truth is that if you haven’t been where I’ve been then you won’t understand. It’s the same problem with a lot of service programs that come out here. That’s why I love Capitol Hill Group Ministry and Ebenezers Coffeehouse. They will actually approach us and ask, “Well, what is it that you need?” Because let me tell you, this guy was genuinely upset about his $3,500 a month! And the truth is, we can’t understand it and we can’t relate because we just don’t intermingle with you all.”