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Picture the Homeless
Member Profile: Alethea Smalls
I'm part of PTH because they believe in the same thing I believe in. I find a lot of commonality between myself and the members, and it gives me a sense of support, like I'm not alone in the struggle. We understand the importance of rolling up our sleeves and fighting - I dont' mean physically, I mean strategically, standing up in the face of adversity and saying I will not be gotten.
My proudest moment at Picture the Homeless so far was my first action - the sleep-out, in Erik Dilan's district! We didnt know how much support we'd get from the community, so I was shocked at the way they turned out - they opened their doors, brought us food, coffee, they let us use their bathrooms, they hung out and talked to us and told us how much they supported what we were doing. I felt so empowered and excited.
Right now, the thing that I'm most excited about is the Community Safety Act legislation. It's so in alignment with my own goals. I want to see real change happen in our justice system. I want to see people really be given a chance to flourish and thrive in our society. Hopefully we can do it peacefully. Whenever you do grassroots organizing, it really speaks to my alter ego, the one that says Maybe we need to get a little more radical. The way I see things in my head, when it comes to bias-based policing and the way that cops funciton in communities of color, I'm thinking it has to happen state to state, nationwide. I'm talking about a revolution.
To homeless people who aren't part of Picture the Homeless, I would say PTH is a great place to start to understand the system and become involved, and make your voices heard. I know people get down at times, but that's what PTH is about, fighting together to end this oppression. Homelessness hurts, but it doesn't feel so bad if you fight a good fight.
For people who have never dealt with homelessness, the most inportant thing to know is that we are proud people too. We have morale, we had lives and we still have lives. We have goals. It's a crisis, but sometimes people get comfortable with it, because homelessness is no dehumanizing and lasts such a long time and it seems like there's no way out. So a lot of times, people stop fighting it. As long as I stay focused, and keep learning, I feel like I'm getting somewhere. People can tell you something a thousand times, or you can read it in the newspaper or in a book, but it's different when you connect the dots yourself.
- Alethea Smalls