A photo of a tourist posing in front of a sleeping homeless man has sparked outrage
Kim Kardashian “broke the internet” with a nude selfie this week, but the photo that really should’ve gotten everyone’s attention is this one: an image of a tourist in Los Angeles posing for a picture while a homeless man sleeps at her feet.
In the photo, an oblivious woman throws her arms out excitedly in front of a mural that reads: “Stand here and think about someone you love.” A homeless man is on the ground just inches from her feet, and her friend is directing her on how to pose — you know, because she’s having to step over and around an actual human being. The disturbing scene was captured by Silver Lake resident Rich Michalowski, who posted it to his Facebook page with the caption, “Really?”
Since the photo went up, it’s received dozens of comments from people who are disgusted by the woman’s thoughtlessness. Writes one, “There’s a certain amount of irony involved in posing for a warm fuzzy picture while trying not to stand on a homeless man’s head.”
Another commenter added,”I was homeless once for a year and even though I was altruistic to the homeless before it happened to me, it made me exponentially angered with the criminalization of the homeless and I would seriously go off on these people.”
Dallas Clayton, the artist behind the mural, saw the photo and shared it on his own Facebook page, saying he’s mortified to have that awful scene associated with his work. He writes:
“It’s unfortunate that we live in a world, country, state, and city with so many resources and so much potential for progress, yet we still allow people to go without basic needs such as food and shelter… I wish we structured changes based around countries that were seeing success in lowering their homeless populations. I also wish that the woman in this photo had connected more with the intention of the mural itself, which was to offer a moment of pause to reflect on what it means to love someone else, to create empathy and bring us closer together as a people.”
Clayton also announced that he’ll be giving 100 percent of the proceeds from a new photo series to organizations that help the homeless, and says he encourages others to think about ways to help, rather than dwelling on “this woman and her (hopefully momentary) disgusting ineptitude.”
It’s heartbreaking that anyone ever has to sleep on the street, but it’s even more heartbreaking to know there are people in the world who are so out of touch with what’s going on around them that they’d step over a homeless person’s head to get a good Instagram photo. I mean, who does that?
This photo may have been taken in Los Angeles, but homelessness exists everywhere. Unfortunately, the disconnect that leads us to ignore the problem exists everywhere too. A report by the Department of Housing and Urban Development shows over 610,042 people are homeless in the U.S. at any given time. Hopefully this photo becomes more than just a vehicle for our collective outrage and inspires everyone who sees it to take steps towards meaningful change.
If you’re interested in getting involved, you can start by checking out the National Coalition for the Homeless.