Florida has much bigger problems
than George Zimmerman

Contrary to the way in which the media is portraying it, Central Florida actually has problems much larger than the recent “not guilty” verdict in the George Zimmerman case.  And one of the most significant and glaring dilemmas is the rising number of human beings who have no place to live and very little, if any, food to eat.  In other words, a growing number of individuals who are what we have collectively classified as “homeless.”

While overly ambitious newscasters clamoring for ratings continue to spoon-feed the drama of this high-profile Zimmerman murder trial to an audience all too willing to devote their free time and undivided attention to their television sets, an estimated 35,000 to 40,000 people in the state of Florida are spending their days and nights on the streets, probably much more concerned, I presume, with where their next meal is coming from than the status of George Zimmerman’s criminal case.

I find it shocking that one criminal case can cause thousands of people across the United States to leave their homes and stand in solidarity to protest what they believe to be an injustice, but the fact that last year 633,782 people in the United States alone were without a place to call home does not even create a tiny ripple.

Where is everybody?

How are we choosing what is important to us…and what is not?

Is it that we assuming that someone else is taking care of this?

In the City of Orlando specifically, efforts by local activist groups to organize food offerings for our community’s homeless population in downtown parks have been strategically and legally blocked by local government at every angle over the past several years.  The city has designated blue boxes painted on the sidewalks where homeless individuals are permitted to ask for and receive money.  If they do so outside the blue lines, they are promptly arrested.

We can’t feed the hungry – except where it has been deemed legally acceptable.

We can’t offer financial assistance to the poorest of poor – except where it has been deemed legally acceptable.

And these people have nowhere to go – except where it has been deemed legally acceptable for them to go.

Maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe we should and do live in a world where it truly is each man or woman for him or herself.  Maybe those men and women standing on the street corner with signs pleading for money don’t deserve the extra dollar or two I have tucked in the drink holder of my car and I should just continue to act as though I do not even see them.  Perhaps that seemingly able-bodied man IS perfectly capable of getting a job and I shouldn’t enable his obvious choice not to work by throwing him a few bucks.  Perhaps I should question why those souls who have come to share a portion of life’s journey with me have not experienced their own abundance in the way that I have.  After all, they must have done something wrong to get to this point and this place, right?  And finally, maybe it is entirely possible that the George Zimmerman trial is way more important than any of this, and that is where I should be focusing my thoughts and energy, as thousands of others are choosing to do.

I don’t think so.

I have never been homeless.  But I have had times in my own life where stretching $20 in the grocery store for a week’s worth of meals for my family was a stark reality.  And it is not difficult for me to recall many turning points in my life which pivoted upon a compassionate helping hand from someone else.  So I’m just noticing.  I’m just taking a closer look at what we as a society appear to be fixated on, what issues cause us take a stand, which events in life we choose to outwardly define ourselves by…and which ones we do not.   I’m just noticing and wondering how we got here, why we are here, and asking:  What will it take to change it?

“When someone enters your life unexpectedly,
look for the gift that person has come to receive from you…
I HAVE SENT YOU NOTHING BUT ANGELS.”
“Conversations with God” – Book 2

(Lisa McCormack is the Managing Editor & Administrator of The Global Conversation. She is also a member of the Spiritual Helper team at www.ChangingChange.net, a website offering emotional and spiritual support. To connect with Lisa, please e-mail her at Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com.)

Please Note: The mission of The Global Conversation website is to generate an ongoing sharing of thoughts, ideas, and opinions at this internet location in an interchange that we hope will produce an ongoing and expanding conversation ultimately generating wider benefit for our world. For this reason, links that draw people away from this site will be removed from our Comments Section, a process which may delay publication of your post. If you wish to include in your Comment the point of view of someone other than yourself, please feel free to report those views in full (and even reprint them) here.
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  • Mike Brown

    I have dealt with street people as a street musician. In many cases long term funding of someone panhandling for years gives them no incentive to improve themselves or change or stop abusing the substances they often buy with your change. They pair and partner up with others to take a good spot. I saw one pull out an i phone something I can’t afford.
    Someone like me down the street playing music for free with the hope of a tip is threatened by them for ” cutting their grass ” They think I am doing the same thing as
    they are. Yes I’ve read the CWG material. I know this would not be a CWG line of reasoning. Yes I know we’re all supposed to be one. You say this after you deal with someone spitting in your face because he didn’t like where you played your 500$ violin. Smile at you, curse me when you leave.
    If you are suburban your malls and plazas will keep you with police and security from
    even encountering me playing you a tune in many cases.What I would say to someone like Neale if he even has time to read this stuff posted is the inner cities and especially major metropolitan areas are a lot nastier now then they were in the 90’s. That it is better to give a coffee shop or Kroger gift card then cash if you want to. I handed out 5 $ coffee cards at Xmas one year to everyone I could afford.
    I have seen many leave the food you hand them on the ground when they walk away.
    In respect to affluent people they don’t know, they can’t know lining up for charity dental work all afternoon and glad to get it. I of course recommend
    if your inner voice tells to give- give. Your money though is voting for what you

    want to see more of.

  • Trisha

    I agree. We keep putting our attention in the wrong places. We are busy trying to ignore what is calling us to notice so we can seek to be better people.

  • Kymberlee della Luce

    I’m not sure you understand how systemic oppression is. Homelessness, racism and social injustice are not separate. They are very connected and they all need our attention. For example, do you realize how many black men are incarcerated and how unfairly they are treated? What do you think happens to their wives and children when they are sent to prison. Here are some statistics that might help you parse this out from a March 13, 2012 post onThe Center for American Progress’ website.

    “This month the United States celebrates the Selma-to-Montgomery
    marches of 1965 to commemorate our shared history of the civil rights
    movement and our nation’s continued progress towards racial equality.
    Yet decades later a broken criminal-justice system has proven that we
    still have a long way to go in achieving racial equality.

    Today people of color continue to be disproportionately incarcerated,
    policed, and sentenced to death at significantly higher rates than
    their white counterparts. Further, racial disparities in the
    criminal-justice system threaten communities of color—disenfranchising
    thousands by limiting voting rights and denying equal access to
    employment, housing, public benefits, and education to millions more. In
    light of these disparities, it is imperative that criminal-justice
    reform evolves as the civil rights issue of the 21st century.

    Below we outline the top 10 facts pertaining to the criminal-justice system’s impact on communities of color.

    1. While people of color make up about 30 percent of the United States’ population, they account for 60 percent of those imprisoned.
    The prison population grew by 700 percent from 1970 to 2005, a rate
    that is outpacing crime and population rates. The incarceration rates disproportionately impact men of color: 1 in every 15 African American men and 1 in every 36 Hispanic men are incarcerated in comparison to 1 in every 106 white men.

    2. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime.
    Individuals of color have a disproportionate number of encounters with
    law enforcement, indicating that racial profiling continues to be a
    problem. A report by the Department of Justice found that blacks and
    Hispanics were approximately three times more likely to be searched during a traffic stop than white motorists. African Americans were twice as likely to be arrested and almost four times as likely to experience the use of force during encounters with the police.

    3. Students of color face harsher
    punishments in school than their white peers, leading to a higher number
    of youth of color incarcerated. Black and Hispanic students represent more than 70 percent of those involved in school-related arrests or referrals to law enforcement. Currently, African Americans make up two-fifths and Hispanics one-fifth of confined youth today.

    4. According to recent data by the
    Department of Education, African American students are arrested far more
    often than their white classmates. The data showed that 96,000
    students were arrested and 242,000 referred to law enforcement by
    schools during the 2009-10 school year. Of those students, black and
    Hispanic students made up more than 70 percent
    of arrested or referred students. Harsh school punishments, from
    suspensions to arrests, have led to high numbers of youth of color
    coming into contact with the juvenile-justice system and at an earlier
    age.

    5. African American youth have higher rates of juvenile incarceration and are more likely to be sentenced to adult prison. According to the Sentencing Project,
    even though African American juvenile youth are about 16 percent of the
    youth population, 37 percent of their cases are moved to criminal court
    and 58 percent of African American youth are sent to adult prisons.

    6. As the number of women incarcerated has increased by 800 percent over the last three decades, women of color have been disproportionately represented.
    While the number of women incarcerated is relatively low, the racial
    and ethnic disparities are startling. African American women are three times more likely than white women to be incarcerated, while Hispanic women are 69 percent more likely than white women to be incarcerated.

    7. The war on drugs has been waged
    primarily in communities of color where people of color are more likely
    to receive higher offenses. According to the Human Rights Watch,
    people of color are no more likely to use or sell illegal drugs than
    whites, but they have higher rate of arrests. African Americans comprise
    14 percent of regular drug users but are 37 percent of those arrested for drug offenses. From 1980 to 2007 about one in three of the 25.4 million adults arrested for drugs was African American.

    8. Once convicted, black offenders receive longer sentences compared to white offenders. The U.S. Sentencing Commission stated that in the federal system black offenders receive sentences that are 10 percent longer than white offenders for the same crimes. The Sentencing Project
    reports that African Americans are 21 percent more likely to receive
    mandatory-minimum sentences than white defendants and are 20 percent
    more like to be sentenced to prison.

    9. Voter laws that prohibit people with felony convictions to vote disproportionately impact men of color.
    An estimated 5.3 million Americans are denied the right to vote based
    on a past felony conviction. Felony disenfranchisement is exaggerated by
    racial disparities in the criminal-justice system, ultimately denying 13 percent
    of African American men the right to vote. Felony-disenfranchisement
    policies have led to 11 states denying the right to vote to more than 10 percent of their African American population.

    10. Studies have shown that people of color face disparities in wage trajectory following release from prison.
    Evidence shows that spending time in prison affects wage trajectories
    with a disproportionate impact on black men and women. The results show
    no evidence of racial divergence in wages prior to incarceration;
    however, following release from prison, wages grow at a 21 percent slower rate
    for black former inmates compared to white ex-convicts. A number of
    states have bans on people with certain convictions working in domestic
    health-service industries such as nursing, child care, and home health
    care—areas in which many poor women and women of color are disproportionately concentrated.

    Theses racial disparities have deprived people of color of their most
    basic civil rights, making criminal-justice reform the civil rights
    issue of our time. Through mass imprisonment and the overrepresentation
    of individuals of color within the criminal justice and prison system,
    people of color have experienced an adverse impact on themselves and on
    their communities from barriers to reintegrating into society to
    engaging in the democratic process. Eliminating the racial disparities
    inherent to our nation’s criminal-justice policies and practices must be
    at the heart of a renewed, refocused, and reenergized movement for
    racial justice in America.

    There have been a number of initiatives on the state and federal
    level to address the racial disparities in youth incarceration. Last
    summer Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the Schools Discipline Initiative to bring increased awareness of effective policies and practices to
    ultimately dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. States like
    California and Massachusetts are considering legislation to address the disproportionate suspensions among students of color. And in Clayton County, Georgia, collaborative local reforms have resulted in a 47 percent reduction in juvenile-court referrals and a 51 percent decrease in juvenile felony rates. These initiatives could serve as models of success for lessening the disparities in incarceration rates.”

    Article by Sophia Kerby who is the Special Assistant for Progress 2050 at American Progress.

    • fempatriot

      They have so much more than they used to have: Affirmative Action–both for jobs and college, college grants, welfare, food stamps, low cost housing that gets trashed by them…I don’t know what ivory tower you live in, but the majority of them are in prison for dealing drugs (making thousands of illegal dollars) or robbery or murder. Black on white violence is 39 times greater than white on black violence: robbery, beating, mugging, murder…that can’t be because of deprivation. The majority of whites that I know are barely keeping their heads above water and have to rely on credit for everything. Many have lost jobs and lost heart but they’re not out doing something illegal. I worked at 2 correctional centers for 5 years. I know what I worked with and who I worked with, and the majority of them belonged in prison.

      • Kymberlee della Luce

        “They” are part of “us”.

      • Jeanette Traylor

        I, and people like me, are educated, hard working, non-drug dealing, and non-violent. It sounds more like you are in an environment of undereducated, poorly-read people like yourself. How many of your family members are you speaking about. Insofar as affirmative action, read your history books to find out why it was necessary. I’m assuming you are able to read chapter books.

    • Wonderful points, Kymberlee. And I am in wholehearted agreement with your observation of the undoubted connection between racism and homelessness and social injustice. I am not so certain, however, that a large percentage of the people who enmesh themselves in sensationalized high-profile media-driven cases like this particular one do so for the reasons you thoughtfully articulated. Case in point: State of Florida vs. Casey Anthony. I see you have placed yourself in a position of sharing great wisdom and stand in a space of being a powerful leader in the movement to change racism and homelessness and social injustice. And I thank you for that and thank you for being here and contributing your thoughts.

      • Kymberlee della Luce

        Always my pleasure to add a more full-bodied view of things.

  • Jeanette Traylor

    Ms. McCormack, do you really believe that my interest in the Trayvon Martin case means that I am oblivious to the plight of poor people everywhere? My interest stems from the fact that an innocent boy was killed by a man who thought he had no reason to be where he was, and therefore took it upon himself to fix it. It was then going to be swept under the rug as if the decedent was no more than a pestering cockroach. The boy’s (Travon. Yes I will give name to this human being who was denied the chance to grow into a man) parents brought their tragedy to the media. This is about awakening society to racism, to lawlessness, and corruption in government. As a black Mother and Aunt of young black males, I am finding yours and Neale’s position on this issue both insensitive, offensive, and ignorant. I’m sure this is not the grandest version of either of you. Perhaps you should listen more carefully to what GOD is saying. You are about to loose at least one follower…just in case it matters.

    • Kymberlee della Luce

      Speak it! Thank you for this.

    • Jeanette Traylor

      Neale, I do indeed understand what you were saying. I have been tremendously influenced by your books. You even helped me through a crisis involving custody issues around my son. I still carry the notes of that meeting. I know you are a wonderfully divine messenger. I also understand that both men had attitudes about the other stemming back generations. It was their way of being in the world that created an environment that caused them to have that horrible interaction. Because I am still growing, even with everything I have learned, these events can be extremely challenging when looking at them through the eyes of my humanness. Even those who are as spiritually centered as you are can understand that it can take a while for the rest of us to process these things spiritually. My earlier point was only one man came with gun in hand ready for war. Without that, both men would have gotten a little beat-up until they were tired. Hopefully, the conversations that grow from this will inspire us all to be better. Thank you for taking the time to respond…and thank you for caring about me in Baltimore Md several years ago when I came with a veryheavy heart. I only experienced love in your presence.

      • We’re all still growing, sister. I love hearing your voice in this conversation. I appreciate how you are willing to be real, raw and vulnerable while also strong and determined. It’s beautiful.

        • Jeanette Traylor

          You, also…beautiful woman of GOD

    • You said: “Hopefully, the conversations that grow from this will inspire us all to be better.”

      Dear Jeanette, I can assure you that your comments do inspire me to be better. A better mother, a better woman, and a better advocate for those whose lives are less than easy. In my imperfect effort to illustrate how wonderful it would be to see the global masses stand up as tenaciously as they have for this trial in all aspects in life where a cry for help is heard, I have created an appearance of insensitivity on my part to what has taken place. I feel a deep sense of sadness and loss surrounding the events involving George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin and commit to being included in the movement that works to repair the huge hole that has been left in the heart of humanity. Thank you for your heartfelt honesty, Jeanette.

      • Jeanette Traylor

        In the spirit of oneness…one being, one love. Thank you.

    • Neale, I appreciate how you are trying to address things here. You said, “It seems, however, that if I do not take one “side” or the other in this tragedy, I will be called insensitive and ignorant.”

      And, “My failure to clearly take sides seems to have been my mistake.”

      Since I used the words “ignorant and insensitive”, I will address that.

      You are failing to acknowledge a long-standing of history of oppression and system, institutionalized racism that exists in this country in this post and throughout all the dialogue. Your ignorance of this is part of your humanness. It’s part of the role YOU are playing in this world. You have asked me directly how you could have done something different and then ignored me when I responded. What I see if you apologizing all over yourself for being insensitive while continuing to restate your point of view. This is your prerogative but it still doesn’t address the issue at hand. You say you want to have conversations but I’m not really seeing one happening here.

      I am not asking you “choose sides”, I’m asking you to challenge your assumptions a bit. To perhaps see your own truth and the role you play in perpetuating racism with your language. I understand that you are trying to take a spiritual approach here, that you are a “spiritual leader” to many people who find comfort in your words. These same people are getting their race buttons pushed in these discussions and all of that “oneness” talk just dissolves. Why? Because they aren’t embodying their beliefs. Why? Because that’s what an imbalance of transcendent thinking will get you. The same kind of thinking that has people who believe in the prophecies in Revelations destroying the planet because they are going to be “raptured” one day. It’s nonsense to think that social problems are going to get fixed by wishing them into being.

      Both you and Lisa McCormack have shown ignorance of the real-world problems that have contributed to things YOU ARE WRITING ABOUT. If you’re going to put it out there, expect to be challenged a bit and consider a response other than, “I’m so sorry I offended you but I stand behind what I said.” That gets us nowhere.

      Likewise, saying, “I am so very, very sorry that it seems to me that to some degree both Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman played roles that led to this tragic outcome — roles that I believe were at least partially informed
      by their model of the world,” is not helpful and is confusing.

      What does mean? You’re sorry that you see the world this way? I honestly don’t understand that statement at all.

      It’s not some kind of cosmic, spiritual epiphany to say that the way we see the world affects our experience in life. That you are writing about that and quoting racial slurs that were used then pulling away from the discussion with, “Golly, I just can’t seem to do anything right here,” is a problem.

      Neale, you seem like a kind-hearted man who is doing what he can to make
      the world better. I respect that. I love your vision of what our world could be. It will take some action–some spiritual immanence–to close the gap. With the influence you have, you could help close that gap. It will happen sooner if you are willing to engage in dialogue that is dynamic and receptive.

      I look forward to your response.

      • Dear Kymberlee, I appreciate your comments here, even when
        we do not agree. I believe the possibility always exists for each and every one of us to penetrate walls and knock down barriers that interfere with our ability to experience our oneness, and that we may do so with our very next thought and with our very next words. I, like you, have chosen to place myself at the forefront of change by, among other things, being here on The Global Conversation, because I have learned that change, real change, is not cultivated in a room full of nodding heads, nor does it take place in the company of “self-affirming sisters,” to borrow a phrase from Tony Robbins. It has been my own personal experience that meaningful and lasting change occurs between two people, or more, bringing to the table their unique life experiences, perspectives, and points of view; creating a space that allows room for reflection, compassion, understanding, growth, and healing to take place; and then allowing ourselves to stand in that space with a level of vulnerability and openness that can only be seen through the lens of our Souls. I think, if given the opportunity, we would discover that we are indeed “playing for the same team” here.

        • Thank you, Lisa. I have no doubt we’re playing for the same team.

          When I talk about issues related to diversity, power and privilege, I am not talking semantics. It’s a very real reality and is important to people who have been in oppressive situations; some of those people have been speaking out here. Understanding how oppression and status works helps people who really, truly want to serve expand their thinking. Not unlike Neo taking the blue pill in the Matrix, getting a sense of the reality of what life is like for others can be one of the most sorrowful and yet empowering moments in life. It’s when true devotion can come alive, in my experience.

          It’s not about what team we’re playing on, it’s about how we’re playing and whether or not we truly know and understand our teammates enough to love them as they need to be loved, not as we assume they do.

  • Jeanette Traylor

    Do you see the messagefrom fempatriot? She isn’t speaking from love, or oneness, or even fact. She is speaking from racial hatred. These are the attitudes that need to be addressed. But you may have to edycate yourself on facts and history, first. With all due respect, I believe you are coming from a good place. I have met Neale at his seminars. You both have some research to do about this topic. Can you hear and feel the contempt in the fempatriot blogger. You are fueling it.

    • Kymberlee della Luce

      Agreed.

  • Jeanette Traylor

    Typographical error…ed U cate. Sorry

  • Sander Viergevert

    Our live is not about surviving, our live is about serving the Kingdom of God. Which will give us so so much more hapiness, well more to say completion. If you read this, you can change that by starting with yourself.