Posts Tagged ‘Homelessness’

Pictures of Brother Africa’s 1 year Death Anniversary Demonstration

March 10, 2016

On March 1st, L.A. CAN, the Skid Row community and the Black Lives Matter movement gather at the LAPD headquarters to take our message to the police commission that we demanded justice in the name of Brother Africa and that the officers be prosecuted, which LAPD has stated that the officers didn’t do anything wrong by killing our brother even when the video of his death went viral and showed that he posed no threat to the officers.
After some members came out of that police commission, we took the streets and peacefully march to the site where he was gun down to remember his spirit.

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Paul Boden Discusses Homelessness in America

November 30, 2014

My dear friend, Paul Boden, a longtime homeless advocate and a leader in the homeless rights movement was a guest on the Tavis Smiley show to discuss homelessness in America. Tavis did a great job at letting its viewers know about Paul’s new book. If you want a copy of the book please go to http://www.wraphome.org.
Here is Paul’s piece at the Tavis Smiley show.

Please feel free to share this video to whomever you think will benefit from it.
http://video.pbs.org/viralplayer/2365376438

Happy 80th Birthday, Roberto Clemente!

August 18, 2014

Clemente21

Happy 80th Birthday to Roberto Clemente! As a baseball and Dodgers fan, Roberto Clemente is one of my all time heroes. This is what I wrote about Clemente last year, so will include it below in addition to couple videos on the pride of Puerto Rico. Enjoy!

Roberto was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico. At an early age, Roberto started playing baseball. In 1954, the Brooklyn Dodgers offered him a contract to play for their Triple-A team, the Montreal Royals. While with the Royals, Roberto didn’t play that much. He was often bench. Some say that the Dodgers were trying to guard him from the Rookie Draft of 1954. But, Clyde Sukeforth, a baseball scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates observed that Clemente was being bench and encouraged the Pirates to draft him. On November 22, 1954, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Roberto Clemente in the Rookie Draft.

Roberto Clemente made his major league debut on April 17, 1955 against the Brooklyn Dodgers. He didn’t do well in his rookie season due to being involved in a car accident midway thru the season. Roberto Clemente really exploded with the Pirates in the 1960s. He led the Pirates to a World Series victory over the Yankees in 1960. Clemente led the National League in Batting in 1961, 1964, 1965 and 1967. He was the Most Valuable Player in 1966. He received numerous Gold Glove awards throughout the 60s for his outstanding defense. Clemente had a canon of an arm. He could throw a guy out at third base or home plate from right field. Players knew not to run on Clemente. He was one of the most amazing players to watch. He helped the Pirates win a second World Series in 1971 when the Pirates beat the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles in seven games. He was named World Series MVP after hitting .414 and hitting a solo home run in the Pirates 2-1 victory in game 7 of the World Series.

Roberto Clemente struggled with injuries and in 1972 he only played in 102 games but ended batting .312 in the season. Roberto collected his 3,000 hit, a double of the Mets’ Jon Matlack in front of the Pittsburgh Pirates fans at Three Rivers Stadium. That would end up being his last hit in the major leagues.

Roberto Clemente was not an ordinary baseball player. He used the diamond to expressed one of his many gifts. Clemente was a great soul. He cared for the most marginalized. He demonstrated tremendous compassion to the poor. Following the 1972 season, there was a catastrophic earthquake in Managua, Nicaragua. Upon realizing that some of the aid that he had previously sent to Nicaragua was not reaching those affected by the earthquake but intercepted by the Somoza government, Roberto Clemente boarded a small airplane that was taking aid packages to the victims. The plane left from Puerto Rico on December 31, 1972 but mechanical problems forced the plane to crash into the ocean off the coast of Isla Verde, Puerto Rico. Everyone from the Pirates attended Clemente’s memorial except his close friend and teammate, catcher, Manny Sanguillen, who decided to jump into the ocean in hopes of finding Roberto’s body. Roberto Clemente’s body was never found.

Roberto Clemente was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame posthumously in 1973, becoming the first Latino to be elected into the Hall of Fame. Roberto was an amazing man. It takes a special man to go out of his way and coordinate emergency relief for victims of an earthquake in another country. Not only did Clemente orgazined relief funds but he put his family aside to personally go to Nicaragua and deliver the aid to the victims.

Major League Baseball (MLB) owes a lot to Roberto Clemente. I know that they have an award name after him for players who best follow Clemente’s humanitarian work but the award is not enough. It is time that Bud Selig, the commissioner of Baseball pays tribute to Clemente just the same way he did to Jackie Robinson. It is time for Clemente’s number 21 to be retired by all major league teams. Having his number 21 retired will send a powerful message that MLB truly honors and respects Clemente’s humanitarian work.

As a Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente fan, I think its only fair that 21 and 42 be the only numbers to be retired by all teams. Having 21 retired paves the way for MLB to have Roberto Clemente Days’ to be celebrated on August 18th as days where MLB will partner up with local community organizations and sponsor an organization that is doing amazing work on issues impacting that baseball’s town. In Los Angeles, it could be a grassroots organization working to end homelessness. In San Francisco, it could be an organization that advocates for equality when it comes to same sex marriages. In New York, it could be an organization that advocates for equal distribution of wealth and holds Wall Street thugs accountable to pay their share of taxes. In Pittsburgh, it could be an organization that brings awareness to the health conditions of the miners in Pennsylvania. If Major League Baseball had Roberto Clemente Days’ on August 18th, we will once again be demonstrating that Sports serves as a vehicle to address social issues that are not only impacting communities but putting the spotlight on community organizations who are making a difference in the lives of many Americans.

May we continue to keep Clemente’s legacy and spirit alive by living our lives for the greater good of others. Jackie Robinson once said, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” Roberto Clemente lived by that quote. More importantly, he lived by his own quote, “If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don’t do that, you are wasting your time on this Earth,”

Supporters for the Homeless Took the Streets to Protest Anti-Homeless Ordinance

December 20, 2013

This past weekend, homeless activist and their supporters gathered in Hollywood to demonstrate against a proposed ordinance that if passed in the city of L.A. it would prohibit feeding the homeless in public places.
Here are the videos I took from last weekend’s demonstration.

Long Live Ella Baker

November 13, 2013

Today is the birthday and death anniversary of one of the most famous unsung heroes in our country. Ella Baker. She would have been 110 years old. Today is her 27th death anniversary. Ella Baker was the type of revolutionary that understood that the movement is not about being the one who gets more exposure or the person that everyone talks about. She was all about the people. She was the type of revolutionary who dedicated her life to the struggle of human rights, the type of person that clearly understood that one doesn’t have to get the limelight to fight for freedom of others. She the female version of Bayard Rustin. Both of them did so much for the civil rights movement behind the scenes. 

So much can be written about Ella Baker. What matters is that we apply her teachings and implement her ideas on grassroots organizing to systemically change our system. The best way to honor and pay tribute to Ella Baker is to get involved and organize our communities. Continue to fight for the human rights of all people. She once famously said, “We who in believe in Freedom cannot rest.” 

We who believe in Freedom cannot rest when our country continues to invade and occupy foreign countries.

We who believe in Freedom cannot rest when Palestinians continue to be treated like 2nd class citizens in their own land and Israel continues to have the apartheid wall.

We who believe in Freedom cannot rest when NSA has already invaded the privacy of most Americans and tapped all cell phones, read our emails and listen to the conversations of foreign leaders.

We who believe in Freedom cannot rest when homelessness continues to be an issue that people ignore and countries nationwide are criminalizing people for sleeping on the streets.

We who believe in Freedom cannot rest until we as a people start changing and realizing that the reason of our existence lies in using our gifts for the greater good of Humanity. When we are able to recognized that the beauty of life is found in upholding the human rights of all people and providing people with the basic human needs and working to abolish systems that seek to impose barriers on people’s dignity, human rights and way of life, then only then will we rest. Until then, we who believe in Freedom cannot rest.

Here is a great article about Ella Baker.

http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/ella-baker-and-limits-charismatic-masculinity

Here is my favorite song that honors Ella Baker.

Remembering the Homeless Veterans

November 11, 2013

As we celebrate Veterans Day, let us not forget the thousands of homeless veterans that are in our communities. They may not get the special treatment, or be asked to join in a parade, but like every other soldier, they put their time and energy and deserve to be recognized. I am always amazed at how people can “support” the troops or have campaigns to bring the troops home. But, when those troops come back to the United States, they become unknown soldiers. This is especially the case with homeless people who have given their commitment to fight for this country but we haven’t seen this country fight for them.
We have seen too many homeless veterans on our streets. We have seen a lot of our soldiers come back from war torn countries and not be given the proper care to deal with their PTSD. Instead of thanking our veterans for putting their life at risk, we have seen this country turn their backs on them. We can continue to have Veterans Day as a holiday but what good is that if its only to be use as a photo op for the President or any other politician.

Let’s really honor our Veterans by taking care of our Homeless Veterans, especially women. The general public has a perception that women who are veterans are nurses, file paperwork and not engage in combat. That is what mainstream media wants us to think about women in uniform. The truth is that women have also been on the front lines. They have also given their fair share but when they come back to their communities, they realize that resources for women veterans are very scarce. There are not that many resources catered to this population and that is a tragedy in itself. Women in the military not only have to deal with Military Sexual Trauma (MST) but the barriers that they have to deal with once they go to their communities is even more shocking. The lack of VA services catered for women is an issue. Many women feel disrespected when seeking services at the VA because they feel that men would not treat them as equal. They feel that men would just look at them as someone who didn’t have the same combat experience as their male counter parts did.

The VA office has unveiled a 5 year plan to end Veteran Homelessness. While that may sound nice, we would have to see. The problem with all these “strategic” plans to end homelessness, is that every city and state practically has one. It is basically lip services in my eyes. I have seen too many strategic plans to end homelessness come and go and the problem is still there. A 5 year plan to end Veterans Homelessness is like saying the United States in 5 years will stop invading and occupying countries in the world. It’s not going to happen. I wish we can end Veteran Homelessness in 5 years. I wish the United States will stop invading and occupying countries. But, I have to be realistic. It’s not going to happen. I can’t believe I said that but its a dead fact. Only time will tell. In the mean time, let’s not forget our brothers and sisters in the streets, who continue to be on the front lines.

Here is a poem, I wrote in honor of our Homeless Veterans.

UNKNOWN SOLDIER

My name is Fred and I am a Vietnam Veteran.
At the time of my deployment, I was fired up.
I was ready to go to war and defend my country.
I was given the proper tools
and was well prepared to battle.
But, something changed when I got to Vietnam.
Something in me realized this wasn’t right.
A lot of my fellow soldiers had second thoughts.
We started questioning the motives for us going to war.

One thing about war is that it will leave you
with scars that you will never be able to heal.
I saw other soldiers kill innocent men, women and children.
These innocent people were our “enemies”
because they were Vietnamese.
I couldn’t do it.
I didn’t have it in me.
So a few of us got court martialed.
We made our decision under the basis that
we couldn’t follow through with our orders
at the expense of killing innocent civilians.

You have to understand that back in our times,
we didn’t have the internet.
We didn’t have the technology that your generations has.
We had a real movement going on.
The anti-war movement was strong.
You could feel the wind of Revolution.

Nowadays, even with all the resources
that this generation has
it saddens me that we continue
to live in a world
where war triumphs over humanity.
Son, how can this be?
How can we allow ourselves to
believe that something good
comes from war?
I’ve been there
and trust me when I tell you
that war seeks to impose
ones’ views over others
while it leaves the rest of us
suffering from PTSD
and if that’s not a catastrophe
look around in your own community
and tell me how many
homeless veterans you see
walking around
with PTSD.

Look at me,
I have tried to
live a normal life
but I can’t.
Once you go to war,
you will never be able
to live a normal life.
I have been on the streets
for quite some time.
I have been getting assistance
from the VA office
but because there is such a
long waiting list to house
homeless veterans
I am on the streets.

Many people may
disagree with me
that I am not a real
soldier because I
didn’t kill anybody
or engaged in combat.
But, does killing someone
make you more a soldier
than someone who didn’t.
The difference I see is that
me and my friends were not
going to allow ourselves
from being brainwashed
and making us kill innocent
people that have never done
anything to our country.
If I invested the same amount
of time and went through the
same training as any other soldier
then I consider myself a soldier.

Right now,
I am still a soldier;
only of a different source,
a soldier who is willing
to fight for the greater cause of Humanity.
Once you live in the streets,
you don’t have to worry about
getting a purple heart to
make you feel special.
Once you live in the streets,
the soldier instincts in you come out.
We are in the concrete jungle
and you have to use
whatever resources you can find
just to survive.

Thanks for taking the time
to talk to me.
I really appreciate your time.
There are a lot of us
unknown soldiers
in these cold streets.
Many of us have our
different stories.
What’s important to know
is that there shouldn’t be
homeless veterans
in the United States.
That is like a slap to the
face for soldiers
who fought and defended this country.

Documentary on L.A. Street Soccer and Thistle Farms

December 8, 2011
Here is a documentary on L.A.’s Street Soccer and the overall program of Street Soccer USA. This is an amazing documentary that shows how Soccer has been a tool to eradicate homelessness. Plus, learn about the amazing work that women are doing in Thistle Farms. Please share this documentary to your family and friends.

http://www.byutv.org/watch/e05d3f4b-01f6-402c-a95b-d3dcfc3e3fbd/turning-point-street-soccer#ooid=dhdnUxODrzA9SYQlQwDRUL4MBTWpgjzH

How can you worship a homeless man on Sunday and ignore one on Monday?

November 11, 2011

I am fortunate to have a copy of this hard to find poster. During my Senior year at Saint Mary’s, I got in touch with folks from the Coalition for the Homeless in New York. I had them mailed me 3 posters. I gave one poster to CILSA (Catholic Institute for Lasallian Social Action) and one to Saint Mary’s Campus Ministry. I felt it was very important that a poster of this magnitude be on the walls of our Campus Ministry and CILSA to remind us about the connection between Spirituality and Social Justice.

As I reflect on this poster, I am reminded about my interactions with homeless people and the countless times they have shared their faith in God to me. I remember one conversation that I had with a homeless man in Cape Town, South Africa. Sometimes in the evening I would make some Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches and take with me a half gallon of milk and walk around our neighborhood to feed the homeless. I remembered one evening when I approach a man and I offered him Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches. “Thank you, God Bless!,” he said with a smile on his face. I replied, “You’re welcome. What’s your name?” “Michael.” “Nice to meet you, Michael. I brought milk so you can enjoy your sandwich.” “Thank you. God Bless You.” I started talking to Michael as he was eating his sandwich. Michael then said to me, “you know why I’m homeless? Because Jesus was homeless…I don’t have to go to church; you become the church to me G…Do you know where Jesus is?” Without thinking about it, I pointed to the sky (looking back, I’m embarrassed to say that was my response :). Michael looked at me and said, “NO! Jesus is right there (and pointed to my heart)!” I was left speechless. 

My conversation with Michael was a blessing that I will always treasure. It only reaffirmed that my vocation to work with the homeless was not only a desire to help my brothers and sisters on the margins of society but a journey where it will provide me with the opportunity to continue building the “Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven.” I have seen Jesus in disguise in the most marginalize. In fact, that is exactly where He wants us to find Him. The message is written in the Gospels but has to be carried in our hearts. May we continue worshiping a Homeless Man on Sunday but start embracing one on Monday.

God’s Smile and Andrew Zimmern Teams Up with 100k Homes Campaign

March 1, 2011
Many people know Andrew Zimmern as the host of the Bizarre Foods, but at one point he was homeless. That is why on today’s segment of Bizarre Foods, he goes to San Francisco and shows the REAL San Pancho. It is in this segment where one will see him feed the homeless along with members of Food Not Bombs and other volunteers.

Today’s segment is also special because for every viewer that tunes in, a donation will be made to the 100,000 homes campaign, which aims to house 100,000 of the most chronically homeless by July, 2013.

Check out the interview below where Andrew talks about his homeless experience and about today’s program. One thing that he mentions in the interview that I have been telling people is that homeless people need to be treated with respect. In my interactions with homeless people and with anyone for that matter, I focus on R.A.D., which is Respect And Dignity. As long as we treat people with Respect and recognize their Dignity, we are moving forward to creating a more compassionate society. Here is the interview. Check it out.

Here is a short segment on today’s show. I hope people will be inspired and join our cause to end homelessness in the U.S. The best way to learn about homelessness is by having conversations with the people in the streets and listening to their stories.

Finally, here is a poem I wrote 10 years ago. Hope you enjoy it.

God’s Smile

You see them everywhere you go.
They are in your cities, towns, neighborhoods, and
you can’t seem to realize them.
     You walk by homeless people
     and you ignore them.
They get close to you and you’re already shaking.
Why is that?
     Is it because they are different than you?
     Is it because of the way they are dress?
You should look inside of them before you judge them.
You should take the time to chat with them, and
then based your judgments from your conversation.
     Have you ever wonder,
     how much you can learn from homeless people?
     Have you ever wonder,
     if at one point in their lives, they were better than you were?
People from all over come to live this lifestyle.
Some are well educated and with their degrees they prove it.
But you wouldn’t know this because
you are too busy seeing the outside.
     Let me take you to another plain of thought.
Have you ever wonder why homeless people
have so much faith in God?
Why they continue to have faith
despite the obstacles and the struggles

that they go through?
     Why some are full of joy and spirit,
     while most of us stress about the small things
     and their life is far worse than ours?
Something to think about.
     Think about this.
Have you ever seen God smile?
How many pictures have you seen
when He is smiling?
     As far as I’m concern, none.
     Now wouldn’t it be nice to see His smile?
     Wouldn’t it be nice to see if God has dimples?
You have been given the opportunity
to see His smile.
In fact, you see it every time homeless people smile at you,
but you have been blind to see it.
     Why do you think Mother Teresa
     dedicated her life to help the poorest of the poor?
Mother Teresa knew she was seeing
God’s smile when they would smile at her.
Next time you come across homeless people,
realize the smile that they carry.
It’s not any other ordinary smile.
It’s God’s smile.