You are on page 1of 3

Sharat Vyas


It is hard to believe that we have already reached the half-way point of this semester. I

feel that I have learned more about issues like racism, implicit bias, and homelessness in these

past few weeks than I had learned since I was born. I have seen my views on issues such as

crime change and have begun to feel more comfortable having the necessary difficult

conversations regarding issues like race. I am excited to see how my views and style of thinking

change as the semester continues.

One of the first assignments we had in class was to define citizenship and justice. I

defined citizenship as being an integral part of the community and participating actively. While I

still agree that active participation is important, I think an equally important part is staying

informed and critically analyzing a situation. I have seen this firsthand at the Helping Homeless

to Housing meetings. A big part of each meeting is spent in bringing members up to speed on

current problems facing the community, legislation currently being passed, and the implications

of these things on the homeless community. I think that by staying informed and critically

analyzing a situation, we can recognize possible problems and address them before they actually

become a problem or become too large to handle as a community.

A good example can be found in my first visit to an HHH meeting. In this meeting, the

group talked about the possibility of a soccer team coming to Charlotte. I originally loved the

idea because it would be another thing to improve Charlottes image. However, during the

meeting I was explained that if the city could provide a fraction of the funds going to the soccer

team to addressing homelessness, Charlotte would make a massive dent in the citys homeless

population. HHH members went on to explain that the city has a difficult time finding funds to

address homelessness but can easily find tens of millions of dollars to fund a soccer venue. This
Sharat Vyas

experience showed me firsthand how by being informed and critically analyzing a good idea on

the surface can turn out to be a poor idea when you look into it.

Looking back at the first assignment, I was pleased with how I defined justice. I defined

it as trying to be fair and accommodating even when things may not be in your favor. While I am

happy about this, I have been shocked on numerous occasions by learning just how far injustice

is rooted in almost every system and has been rooted in these systems for almost a century. For

example, when our class talked to RMJJ folks on campus, I was shocked to see the stark

differences in the number of colored students suspended versus white students suspended.

Another eye-opening example was the Netflix documentary we watched last week. It was

difficult to see how long injustice has been going on in the United States and how it has been

consistently adapting itself to fit into modern society. I found it interesting how many acts of

injustice have become intertwined and have led to communities being torn apart even if that was

not the goal. A good example of this can be seen in the redlining article we read a few weeks ago.

The article talked about how people would be denied loans by the bank in turn began to create

economic decline. This decline lead to areas being declared slums and then being subject to

urban renewal which would break up these communities and price people out their homes. In the

redlining situation, we see injustice in the banking industry intertwine with government injustice

to break up communities that have been there for decades.

One of my favorite aspects of this class has been the opportunity to work with

community partners. It is tough to admit but before this class began, when I would see a

homeless individual, I was in the mindset that most homeless individuals are homeless because

they are not motivated enough to work for a roof over their head. As I began to attend HHH

meetings and met Angie and Justin my views changed. I learned that not only are there a variety
Sharat Vyas

of reasons that someone can become homeless, but that homelessness itself a downward spiral

that is hard to come out of. Before my first meeting I was under the impression that there are

probably a few hundred homeless in Charlotte. The first meeting blew my mind. I was appalled

to learn that there are thousands of homeless youths. Just youths! When you take into account the

total homeless population it is hundreds of times bigger than I could possibly imagine. This

shock was by far the most eye-opening thing I learned this semester.

It is hard to believe how much my thinking and views have grown thus far. I am excited

to see how I will continue to grow and my style of thinking will continue to change. I am also

excited to see where my groups research leads and how big of an impact our group will make.