“Hola!”, was an unexpected greeting from a notably pallid bank teller in Santa Cruz with whom I expected to deposit a check. I paused briefly, and before I could ask if he could speak to me with English, he asked, “Hablas ingles?”. I paused again, and replied, perhaps with a Californian accent, “Yes; do you?”
As he efficiently adjusted his linguistic obligation and conducted the transaction, I felt compelled to mention that, on rare occasion, my complexion generates such misconception. I probably should have said nothing, and avoided the subsequent discourse.
“Where are you from?”, he asked.
“No, I mean where are you parents from?”
“Here, . . . Sunnyvale and Santa Clara.”
“Where were they originally from?”
As I wondered why white people believe that they were here before anyone else, I briefly explained that my very distant ancestors came to North America from Europe while all sorts of other Caucasians were doing the same; and that my complexion was inherited from ancestors who left Italy a very long time ago. None of my ancestors spoke Spanish.
“Do you know people in the ‘Old Country’?”, he invariably asked.
“. . . Well, . . . since just about everyone I know lives in California, YES!”
Misconceptions associated with homelessness are much more bothersome, and are sometimes used to justify potentially serious discrimination and mistreatment. ‘Homeless’ simply describes a lack of a home. It does not describe reasons for such lack. Nor does it describe symptoms of such lack.
Although some stereotypes of homelessness are more likely to apply to some who are homeless than those who are not, they are neither exclusive to the homeless Community, nor inclusive of everyone within the homeless Community.
For example, addiction is more common among the homeless Community merely because so many who are addicted to some sort of ‘substance’ are more likely to become homeless as a result of such addiction. However, many and actually most who are afflicted with addiction inhabit homes. Furthermore, many who are homeless are not afflicted with addiction.
Only a few residents of Felton are presently homeless. If all of them but no one else were afflicted with addiction to some sort of ‘substance’, then such addiction would involve only a few residents of Felton. Obviously, such addiction is a much more significant problem, and the majority of those afflicted with it inhabit homes. Yet, those who inhabit homes are not necessarily stigmatized as addicts simply because they inhabit homes as the majority of addicts do.
Generalizations generally do not apply to everyone they are intended to apply to, and can initiate inaccurate misconceptions. Everyone has a unique story.