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Katy Lee MP1 10.26.

13 Approaching Social Change From Different Perspectives

The Gay Liberation Front: Manifesto was written in 1971. Addressing every form of prejudice the gay community felt towards them, it provides a detailed community analysis explaining why this prejudice exists. The manifesto addresses itself towards other members of the community, telling them what they must do as a population of gays in order to receive equality in the future. The Gay Liberation Front uses this manifesto to demand social justice. They demand a revolutionary change in society, and they expect this to happen over time. The Rising Out Of The Shadows (ROOTS) young adult homeless shelter is another organization working towards social change. Their mission statement, followed by several paragraphs of further information, is a text used to help initiate this social change. This text explains the purpose of ROOTS and provides a brief background into the causes of homelessness. Their mission statement can be found on the ROOTS website and at the forefront of any brochure or flyer promoting this organization. It is the first impression one is given of what the organization is and what they do. Originating from a program affiliated with the University Methodist Church in 1999, ROOTS is now a nondenominational service organization that has had their doors open to the homeless seven nights a week since 2004. The Gay Liberation Front: Manifesto and the mission statement for ROOTS young adult homeless shelter take entirely separate approaches to initiating social change. The manifesto writes from within the community while the ROOTS mission statement writes for and about the community. Because of these varying positions within their

community these organizations have identified very different goals; the manifesto seeks to create a massive social movement while the ROOTS mission statement seeks to inform others and use this to provide immediate resources. These contrasting goals regarding the social issue in question significantly vary their approaches to initiating social change, and the effect they ultimately make on society. It is when these otherwise unrelated texts are examined side by side that the benefits and drawbacks of each approach become most evident. While The Gay Liberation Front writes from within the gay community, ROOTS writes about the homeless community. By writing from within the community, the manifesto is given respect from its audience, the gay community, without much question. The writers have the best understanding possible of the issues the community in question is experiencing. For instance, a major issue addressed throughout the manifesto is the issue of self-oppression. Self-oppression is saying: I accept what I am, and meaning: I accept that what I am is second-best and rather pathetic. This is an issue apparent almost exclusively to inside members of the community. What also comes with this insight is an understanding of the outside community that is not first-hand, as well as a lack of respect from this outside community. Relying on stereotypes and generalizations, the manifesto claims the family consists of the man in charge, a slave as his wife, and their children on whom they force themselves as the ideal models. Regardless of the legitimacy of this statement, it is not likely to be respected by the general population, as it insults them, nor does it stand a chance of being taken seriously, as their statement seems clearly not to respect the social institutions of the community. While there are benefits to writing from within the community such as

highlighting oppressive social standards, sentences like this clearly illustrate they can often alienate or offend the very community they wish to change. By writing about the community rather than within the community, ROOTS accomplishes the task of effectively communicating to those within and outside of the homeless community without offending or generalizing either side. Unfortunately, writing about the community also results in a less extensive knowledge of the homeless. While the mission statement is capable of addressing causes of homelessness such as abuse and flaws within our foster care system, they are unable to address issues from within homeless social groups including violence and addiction. ROOTS provides shelter and other essential services to homeless young adults. We build community, advocate for social justice, and foster dignity among low-income people. Ultimately, writing from either perspective of a community has differing benefits, particularly when we examine how this notion of community affects their approaches to social change. Because the texts are written from different social places in relation to the community with different perspectives of the issues in question, they have identified entirely different goals. This drastically varies the effect they have had on our society and their degree of effectiveness in the case of creating social change. The Gay Liberation Front demands a drastic social change within our whole society. The ROOTS mission statement, on the other hand, writes as a partner with the community working on projects to provide immediate resources as well as long-term resources. (Such as resume building and barista training classes.) Recall that ROOTS provides shelter and other essential services to homeless young adults. We build community, advocate for social justice, and foster dignity among low-income people. They aim to aid the community through

providing immediate human needs as well as long-term stability. As a partner, ROOTS is able to provide organization, stability and resources that someone within the community simply could not provide. The community itself does not have the means to initiate action. Partnership is necessary. Due to this partnership, however, ROOTS place within the community as an organization is limited to what can be accomplished within the confines of the law, while the Gay Liberation Front is not expected to do so. This is a major reason ROOTS has not opted for the radical social change the manifesto has undertaken. Instead, they have identified the above short term goals. It is important to note that while the homosexual community generally has more resources to initiate action than the homeless community, partnership like this would still have been an invaluable asset to The Gay Liberation Front. The manifesto even states they must work to form a strategic alliance with the Womens Liberation Movement. Partnership is necessary in the plan laid out in the manifesto to build consciousness raising groups and gay communes. While this partnership would have had different benefits and drawbacks than the partnership between ROOTS and the homeless community, considering the Womens Liberation Movement is not expected to work within the law, the benefits are very similar. Partnerships, in both cases, provide vital resources the groups would not have on their own. While the partnership built-in to the structure of ROOTS as a whole is valuable in many aspects, their decision to address the symptoms of homelessness through projects rather than address the causes through social change must be recognized as a fatal flaw. ROOTS is not attempting to change the laws or the systems that cause the problems they are addressing. There is a possibility that at some point in the future every goal outlined

within the manifesto will be achieved, while homelessness will most certainly always exist. ROOTS will make an impact to some extent, but the mission they have undertaken is ultimately destined for failure. The Gay Liberation Fronts manifesto has a possibility of achieving success. In addition to identifying different goals, these texts had, and continue to have, entirely separate influences in our society. The Gay Liberation Front made a substantial impact on our society through this manifesto. It was written over forty years ago, and is still read and analyzed to this day. This manifesto is of historical value. Forty years from now the ROOTS mission statement will most likely be nothing, remembered by no one, with a nearly nonexistent amount of credit for the beneficial changes that have occurred since it was published. The difference between a text influencing hundreds and a text influencing millions originates from the goal behind it. While many benefits do exist in the case of working on projects as a partner with the community, and these organizations are good and helpful to the community itself, social change is clearly more beneficial when it comes to creating a long-term effect on society and the issues themselves. As a result of initiating social change through separate goals, each text identifies causes for and proposes solutions to specific forms of social inequality in vastly different manners. Interestingly, the methods in identifying the causes for social inequality by each organization have several similarities. However, as these texts have chosen significantly different goals and expectations as a result of the actions they are taking, it stands to reason that their proposed solutions to the social inequality they are addressing vary drastically.

Structurally, the manifesto addresses each aspect of oppression, explains the reasoning for this oppression, and concludes with their plan to ending this oppression. The demands are very clear and precise with little room for interpretation. This helps support the coherence of the text, as the actual solutions given are very broad and looseended. The manifesto spends a lot of time speaking generally about the root causes of their oppression, specifically sexism and the emphasis of family in society, the social change that is going to happen, and why this change should happen. In contrast, it spends a rather small portion of time addressing the ways in which this actually will happen. Only two concrete actions that must be taken are addressed. By developing consciousness-raising groups and gay communes they plan to achieve their goals. The manifesto admits to demanding a revolutionary change in our whole society, and the vast open-endedness of this combined with a similar plan results in a rather overwhelmed audience. Their goals can, at times, seem unachievable. ROOTS briefly describes what they do as an organization to diminish the negative results of homelessness. This includes providing for immediate needs and building community among the homeless. They then relay the causes. These young people are spiraling out of the foster care system and onto the streets, fleeing abusive homes and failing to find work opportunities to survive in this tough economic climate. In contrast to the manifesto, the solutions given here are immediate. If we can provide shelter and food, advocate for social justice, and foster dignity for the homeless, we can fix this. Ironically, the reader is left feeling as though change is possible due to the fact that less change is occurring, as these solutions are short term. On the other hand, this audience has experienced no noteworthy emotion or desire. Perhaps they wish to inquire farther;

perhaps they walk away with a miniscule amount of new knowledge. Regardless, this text has not changed anything. While addressing concrete and tangible solutions can help organizations seem more successful, providing generalized overpowering solutions in the correct context is more likely to actually create a change in society. Both of these texts differ on a number of vital and defining issues. From varying perspectives of the community different goals are defined for these organizations, and therefore different solutions to the problems are proposed. The Gay Liberation Fronts manifesto desires and demands a much larger and more prominent change than the ROOTS young adult homeless shelter, resulting in extremely different routes taken to creating a better world to live in. Both approaches have benefits and drawbacks, the most prominent being the benefits and drawbacks to small projects versus major social change. Should the route to social change demonstrated by ROOTS homeless shelter prevail entirely in our society, significant social change would disappear completely. The food banks would be full, and the homeless shelters would flood with volunteers and donations. However, the drinking fountains would remain separated on the basis of your skin color and those in poverty would have no resources to access education, birth control or employment. Women would remain solely as nurses, teachers and wives, and the homosexual community would continue to be ostracized by their own families and disowned by society. It is important to utilize the helpful and temporary solutions that Rising Out Of The Shadows Homeless Shelter provides, but the example set by the Gay Liberation Fronts Manifesto cant be overlooked. The Manifesto must remind us that big issues demand big solutions, and that as a society we must demand change in a radical way in order to see it take place.

Bibliography Gay Liberation Front. Manifesto Group. Gay Liberation Front Manifesto. Rev. ed. London: GLF, 1979. "ROOTS Young Adult Shelter Welcome." ROOTS Young Adult Shelter. N.p.. Web. 11 Dec 2013. <www.rootsinfo.org>.