Monday, May 20, 2013

How about we help the homeless instead of "#Fitch-ing" them?

I tend to steer clear of potentially controversial topics when I blog.  I don't like starting debates over things on social media because confrontation makes me uncomfortable (even if I do handle conflict well).  But something that makes me even more uncomfortable, is devaluing human beings.  Which brings me to the whole "#Fitchthehomeless" thing.  If you are unfamiliar with this movement, watch this YouTube video

This video has pretty much gone viral.  A lot of people that I respect have been re-posting it with support.  (blindly re-posting things on social media is a whole new soap box for a different day) At first I thought that it was pretty cool, but didn't really put much value into it.  After a second or third viewing, it left a horrible taste in my mouth.  

I have never been a huge fan of A&F.  The combination of their high price points, phonographic catalogs, and the overpowering smell of cologne has been kind of a turn off for me.  Not to mention that their largest article of women's attire would only fit over one of my calves.  So when I did my research and discovered that the accusations against Mr. Jefferies (A&F's CEO) were true, I was even more displease with the company.  No one should ever judge or discriminant against another human being simply because of their body type or high school popularity rankings.  

With that being said, the guy who made this video did almost the same thing.  In fact I would even say that he is agreeing with Mr. Jefferies by saying "yes, the homeless are not good enough for your clothes" I will say that the idea behind the motion is innocent and that he had good intentions.  It is great to donate clothes to the homeless and to raise awareness of A&F's misconduct.  But, he didn't really go about it in the best way.  Not to mention, this campaign implies that homeless people should and will wear whatever we give them and be thankful. It seems to say: I won’t wear this garbage, but they should, in order to prove my point because they fit the proper stigma to do so. I am not OK with this. If a point has to dehumanize men and women to be made, it’s a point not worth making.

Can you imagine any other people group where exploitation for the sake of tweets and Instagram pictures would be acceptable. What if people said “We’re going to pass out these clothes to Indian people only, to stick it to this guy! We’ll show him! He’ll be so mad Indians are wearing his clothes!” I’m confident that wouldn't go over well.

Rachel Karman is a social worker with the homeless people of skid row.  When she was asked her opinion of the matter she decided to show the video to some of the people she works with.  Here are some direct quotes from the homeless of Skid Row.

“Wow, that CEO guy is a bad dude.”
“Why the h*** would he pass out clothes to us that he said date rapists wear?”
“I’ve seen my nephew wear that brand of clothing and he’s not a date rapist.”
“It doesn’t look like he is explaining what he is doing to anyone he is giving clothes to. That’s not right.”
“Why isn’t he talking to people when he gives them the clothes? I hate it when people who think they are do-gooders act like that.”
“Why did he just give that large man those tiny pants? I thought he just said they don’t make those sizes? That doesn’t seem very helpful at all.”
“He’s not even asking if he can film them, does he think this is a zoo?”
“Why would we want our ‘own brand of clothing?’ Especially clothing he said 'douche bags' wear.”
“I’m not interested in being this guys billboard or social cause, unless it’s to get people homes.”
“We may be homeless, but that doesn’t mean we want to wear 'douchey' clothes to prove a point—what purpose would that serve, to dehumanize us even more than we already have been?”
“If someone walked up to me to take a picture of me to put on the Internet, I would be really pissed off.”
But the comment that I think sums up everything that needs to be said, was this, “Well, that sort of hurt my feelings.”

*please note that I am aware that I have not cited any of the sources of my information.  This post was saves as a draft for a few days and I unfortunately lost all the tabs I had open before I could link them.  I have learned my lesson and will always link right away going forward.  

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