Would You Recognize Your Mom If She Was Homeless?

Have homeless people become so invisible that we wouldn't recognize our own family members if they were living on the street? That's the question that a new video from the New York Rescue Mission asks. And heartbreakingly enough, it seems that the answer is yes.

In the video, which is part of the Make Them Visible project, participants walked past homeless people on the street, unaware that the "homeless" they were seeing were actually members of their own family in disguise. And yet not a single person recognized their loved ones. Whether it was a wife, sibling, cousin, or even a person's mother, it didn't matter. Even the people who looked at the seemingly homeless person didn't make the connection.

The video challenges people to look at homeless people differently, and it certainly has the power to do that, but it's also a little disturbing to consider the implications of this little social experiment. After all, if a person's own relatives don't even see them when they're dressed up as homeless, then what hope do real homeless people have of ever being seen by anyone? If homeless people really have become so invisible to our society that a homeless costume makes a person unrecognizable to their own family, then what does that say about our culture?

There are plenty of odd and innovative approaches to helping homeless people, from giving them GoPro cameras to the much more logical initiative in Utah to just give homeless people homes, but as this video shows, the most important step might be to actually see the homeless as people.

Image: Make Them Visible