Tyrese Gibson lives on another planet. He said so himself. In his world, Muslims baptize rappers and “ghetto hot sauce will stay forest.” Most importantly, in this land of Black Ty, when you have power, you can do whatever it is you need to do to promote your new record, even if that means mocking someone who is completely down on her luck.
As the singer/actor rolled around NYC this past week to let people know that his undershipped CD was out, he had a great opportunity to show fans how much he cares about humanity when he came upon a homeless woman resting underneath a tree. Instead of helping this woman, the “Vision Implementer” took time to make an Instagram video, joking about how people were “sleeping on” R&B.
I see the ridiculous things that Tyrese says online, and laugh along with the rest of social media. However, I never take the jokes about him too far because I never see him as intending any harm to anyone else. He just came off as somewhat simple dude with way too much to say. However, after seeing that video, as a man who has lived as a homeless person for half a year, I can definitively say, “Tyrese, you are a jerk”
Being homeless is one of the most demoralizing, dehumanizing, debilitating experiences that one can live through (if you think anyone can proudly panhandle, you’re wrong). There are very few people out there with any compassion for you. Most see your predicament as your fault, although there are a million reasons why someone can get to that point (mental illness, natural disaster, the economy, etc) and there are very few people out there who give a damn if you eat or not.
The label is “homeless,” but it is much more than that. Not only do you not have a home, you have nowhere to go, period. If you want to just sit down somewhere, and it’s evident you have no business in that place, you will be told to leave. That’s why so many walking around the streets aimlessly. There is nowhere for them to go. There are many resource-less homeless shelters (where the state will only provide enough funding to keep the lights on), but even they will turn you away if you don’t have proper ID.
That is what I thought about as I saw that poor woman sleeping while Tyrese made lame jokes. I saw a person with a hard life, who probably hadn’t had anywhere to lay down and rest comfortably for a long time. Tyrese could have made that woman’s whole year by getting her something to eat or dropping a few dollars on her. He can certainly afford to do so, and he seemingly had the time (because stopping to do the video was unnecessary). Instead, he decided to strip her of whatever dignity she had left by posting her sleeping in the shade, for cheap laughs on IG. The video was promotion for his album and he used her as a prop. She is entitled to something from him other than humiliation, no? Due to the time I spent living in poverty, I give something to everyone on the street who asks, if I have it to give. I would prefer they get something to eat with whatever little cash I give them, but can’t even be mad at them if they went out and got a beer with it. Sometimes, you just need to feel something as a human being and poverty impedes that. It’s like living in prison out in society, so if I can help them to be free and feel like a real person, for even a second, cool. Those, “God bless yous” the homeless give are genuine. Every little bit means the world to people who have nothing.
Being from Watts, Tyrese should know better. Especially, as a dude who could be in the same spot as that woman if someone never heard him singing on the bus one day. I know there are folks out there who find Tyrese’s “vision implementations” inspirational, but be wary of who you take seriously. Because someone who can use a homeless person as a punchline seems to be too shortsighted to see what’s right.