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Letters to the Editor

The homeless, the poor and more

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Signs of interest

I read with great interest Detroitblogger John's beautifully written, insightful and compassionate article on some of Detroit's homeless people ("Ain't too proud to beg," Oct. 5).

About a year ago, I moved from a house in the Seven Mile and Livernois area to an apartment in Midtown. The window of my kitchen overlooks Woodward Avenue, and I see too often men (mostly) and women, walking slowly, always stopping at trash bins, peering inside for anything of use. 

I wonder about these people, and as a middle-class person, my big question about them is how and when did they lose their support system? (I mention my class because support systems, big or small, are part of our lifestyle.) Over the months, I have been able to make up stories about them to quell my curiosity. But when I read John's article, I realized how far off my assumptions were. I hadn't thought of prison terms or losing children in a fire.

Not all of these vignettes included the pasts of these people, so I was left still questioning some of them. But their stories resonated with me, and I can now fill in a few more blanks as I watch my neighbors in their daily rounds. So, thank you. We all need to raise our awareness, increase our empathy, understand and even occasionally, act. —Suzanne Antisdel, Detroit

 

Not for long

Re: "To hell with the poor" (Sep. 28), the reason that the poor can be treated the way that they are is that they are a minority. Listen to middle-classers on the poor — no one is more merciless and condemnatory: "They don't want to work!" It makes those with jobs feel themselves personally superior to those who don't have them, so they utter the lie anyway. Believe me, the ownership-class is well aware of this mind-set: It is the biggest factor enabling them to "divide and conquer." Those of the upper class fight for the tax breaks denied those of lesser means, and bond with the middle class in deeming those of the lower-income bracket as "drains on society" and personally responsible for their own "failure." Being outnumbered assures that the poor will continue to bear an unequal share of miseries.

Though constantly reminded by the mega-rich that the global economy is responsible for their increased prioritizing of offshore enterprise, the fact that accepting this scenario must validate the working-class grievance that jobs are disappearing overseas as no fault of the American worker is ignored in the rush to claim superior character, on the part of the haves, as opposed to the have-nots. —Bruce Saunders, Detroit

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