I have volunteered at a homeless youth outreach program for many years now, and one of the things they teach us before we're ever allowed to interact with homeless youth is that we are not their personal saviors. They should be able to count on themselves and the larger program.
It's super important because people come and go, but the program has been around since the 80s and it is really helpful for the youth to remember the name of the program, not my name. Candice might be long gone by the time they want help, but the program will still be there.
I can be a good steward of the program, I can treat the clients with respect and dignity, make them feel like they matter, build a rapport with them. But everything comes back to directing their trust toward the program.
Even if they try to give us little gifts, which happens a lot and is usually art they make, we tell them that we'll accept it on behalf of the program and that we'll display it at the shelter.
I think about this a lot in terms of saviorism within activism and politics. I've been thinking about it a lot lately with regard to politicians and movements who seek to erode our trust in the institutions and systems that we rely on and should be able to count on.
There are so many damaging people and movements right now whose message is, "You can't trust anyone but me/us." And it's led us to where we are now. Even though Biden won and Trump will not be president after 1/20, he is doing everything he can to erode trust in our systems.
And Republicans are fine with eroding that trust because it helps them to further their goals of defunding the programs that help people. Why would you fight to keep the ACA if all of your heroes have told you it's a bad program that doesn't help anyone?
Why would you vote if your heroes have told you that your vote doesn't matter and everything is rigged? Why would you fight to elect Democrats if all your heroes told you that Democrats and Republicans are the same?
In my volunteer work with homeless youth, I have learned to be wary of any other homelessness advocates who make the advocacy about them personally, rather than about the client and about the longstanding programs that will be there for decades to come.
I think that people need to have this same wariness for people and groups that pop up to tell you that everything is rigged, nothing matters, and you can't trust anyone but them. Let your alarm bells ring when you hear that rhetoric. Run far away.
And it's not just Trump, it's not just right-wing groups. It's a lot of leftist personalities and groups. Having a list of progressive policies you support doesn't mean shit if your rhetoric erodes trust in our systems and causes people to stay home or throw away their power.

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More from @CandiceAiston

11 Oct
It’s weird to see people praising Bill Burr, who said #MeToo would ruin America and who didn’t vote for Hillary because she “looks like a real estate agent,” for using the stage to call white women bitches under the guise of some phony solidarity with people of color.
This guy went on TV after the 2016 election to shit on Hillary and say Trump wasn’t going to be that bad, but sure, he’s the guy to call out white women on our privilege. 👍
Idk if some of you just didn’t watch the monologue or if you’re unfamiliar with who he is, but he also shit on LGBTQ people, whined about “cancel culture,” and mocked the “woke movement.” But you can overlook that because you liked when he called white women bitches. 👍
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