Unlearning Circle - Homeless and the Racialization of Space
Start: Saturday, April 17, 2021•10:00 AM • Central Daylight Time (US & Canada) (GMT-05:00)
End: Saturday, April 17, 2021•12:00 PM • Central Daylight Time (US & Canada) (GMT-05:00)
Host Contact Info: firstname.lastname@example.org
The May 1, 2021 City of Austin special election ballot contains Prop B, which would recriminalize all of the following:
- “sitting or lying down on a public sidewalk or sleeping outdoors in and near the Downtown area around the University of Texas campus”
- “solicitation, [...], at specific hours and locations or for solicitation in a public area that is deemed aggressive in manner”
- “for camping in any [unapproved] public area”
Recriminalization is an excuse for police to harass our unhoused neighbors and the violence of that policing lands disproportionally on those who are Black and People of Color. The $500 fine initiates a cascade of consequences: warrants, arrests, a criminal record and challenges to finding housing and work that ensure their problems continue.
Alongside this ballot legalese, public debates and discourses around the issue of homelessness in Austin have exposed a harmful “us versus them” mentality against our neighbors experiencing homelessness. A frequent argument for Prop B suggests reinstating the camping ban will improve “public safety”. Public safety for whom? Why is the emotional comfort of people in power given more value than the physical safety of unhoused folks in our city? What makes some properties worth “protecting” over others, and who makes those decisions? What designates other sites as acceptable for industrial development or camping, and who makes those decisions?
In order to undo this harm, we must analyze the social structures that enable homelessness to exist in Austin and our society at-large. How are we complicit in upholding these systems?