Monday, October 12, 2009

Homeless in America....

On August 28th the students of Project Downtown-Tampa ( had a great idea. Why not cook a delicious meal and break their Ramadhan fest with our homeless friends? Every Friday ,come rain or shine the Muslim students of our fair city bring their smiles and friendship along with sandwiches to feed the homeless, but this time PIEDAD our dawah group of American/ Latina sisters cooked Arroz con Pollo (Rice and Chicken). Over 12 trays of that fabulous dish arrived as the students and sisterhood spread out among them. Although, this was truly a night full of blessings we still left with a bit of pain in our hearts when we turned to walk away.

One of the most affluent society’s in the globe has an ever increasing problem; Violence towards the Homeless. Cliff was sleeping on the streets as he has done for several years. No one truly knows how he got there or why. But we do know that he loves his beer more than this sedentary world. Cliff often takes his daily walk either to look for work in Tampa’s downtown or seek nourishment. He was dreaming of a Turkey dinner with all the fixing’s and perhaps someone to give him seconds when he felt strange hands hold him down while another set of hands opened his eyelid and lit a firecracker on his eyeball. This was a senseless crime perpetrated against a human with no hate in his heart or ill will towards anyone. What would make anyone attempt to blow a human beings eye off? The criminals were just teens who played a joke on Mischief night which is as some called a celebration before Halloween night. Cliff felt blood all over his face and screamed in terror as he thought that they had blown off his face. No one seemed to care for this lonely man as he struggled with the teens or when he walked the streets in agony knowing well that no one would stop to help him.
Every year thousands of homeless men and women are treated like this. What kind of modern society do we live in where the homeless are not only forgotten and shunned but lured into situations that not only humiliate but also physically injure them?
What is astounding is the indifference that people feel towards this crime it’s as if they acknowledge its presence but deny culpability. Homeless men and women are subject to Physical and Sexual abuse in astounding numbers. This victimization must be halted now. To get more information please read the report by the National Coalition for the Homeless :
“Florida leads the nation in violent attacks against our homeless neighbors for the 4th year in a row. What a shameful title.” Homeless coalition of Hillsborough County.
60% of homeless are African American and Latinos. The Latinos have traveled east looking for employment. Tampa is not the city for them to find work they need to travel a few more hours south to Miami. But the saddest numbers come from children. With 1.35 million homeless children across the nation it sends chills to the strongest for their safety in the streets.
“While some cities and states have taken positive steps, there are still many parts of the United States that continue to dehumanize homeless persons by creating and enforcing laws that criminalize their homeless status. These laws contain restrictions on sitting, sleeping, storing property, or asking for money in public spaces4. Laws that criminalize the homeless encourage the belief that homeless persons are not human, are unworthy of respect, and attacks against the homeless will go unnoticed.” Hate_report 2008

We need to make violence against the homeless a Crime and not just look the other way. Muslims should take the lead in their communities to protect the rights of those that cannot speak up for themselves. Seek out organization that fight for them and join their coalitions and protect God’s people as they are our brothers and sisters. Make abuse of the homeless a HATE Crime!

Dedicated to my pal Murphy (Pictured)who was beaten to death and found lying under a Palm tree in Downtown Tampa. No police investigation was conducted. Why?

Khadijah Rivera

Islam es para Todos!

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