Comments of the Week: Chuck Hagel, Homelessness and the Criminalization of Youth of Color

Storified by The Nation· Fri, Feb 01 2013 12:48:14

This week, Mychal Denzel Smith wrote about the routine criminalization of youth of color in the United States, and the way it affects the conversations we have regarding gun violence. Some of our readers also made the connection. 
@thenation excellent article by @mychalsmith. Really puts perspective on a lot, esp "armed guards/police" in schoolsJesse Goldberg
Excellent piece.  This is why "common sense" gun legislation used to be supported by the NRA–the ostensible goal is the disarmament of people of color, especially blacks and Latinos, under the guise of "keeping guns away from criminals."  I read a recent report that 75% of black men in DC have felony convictions–how many households in DC can even legally possess a gun?  And yet we’re describing this as a "God-given right [see Wayne LaPierre, this week]?"  The gun debate is Civil War and Reconstruction 2.0.  Private white citizens of the South (and in much of the North) will never cede the firearms they feel they need to keep blacks in their place. For those who say "blacks simply commit too much crime," I point you to the ongoing Alabama hostage situation, involving an older white man with no felony record, despite having threatened his neighbors, beaten dogs to death, and shot at a car with children in it (and wasn’t even facing a felony charge, just misdemeanor).  Justice in America is racist.  Background checks are the new Jim
This is why it’s a bad idea having armed police in the school. It just fosters the school to prison route.Barbara Mullin
Also this week, our readers agreed with George Zornick on the absurdity of the questions asked at Chuck Hagel’s confirmation hearing
If I had to ask him one of those questions I would giggle the whole time. It would be like the "do you have Prince Albert in a can" prank call.Jessica McCarthy
Eric Keith Green: 
I watched the entire hearings online yesterday. I’ve served 10 and a half years both active and reserve in the United States Navy. My opinion from the hearings was that although I thought Hagel could’ve been better prepared I thought most of the senators were asking too many questions on Iran and Israel and not enough on the Pentagon budget, the post war Afghanistan, China’s military buildup, military suicides and sexual assault, which from my experience, IS a big problem in the military, and we go through training after training on sexual assault and the consequences of it. What I was watching yesterday was mostly political stunts and "gotcha" questions to smear a former senator and Vietnam
Finally, a number of commenter added their stories to those profiled in Rose Aguilar’s “Old, Female and Homeless.” 
Reading this breaks my heart, yet I know that at least someone is paying attention.  I am currently navigating the system in the Northeast.  The only real outlet or help for women is if you go into a domestic violence shelter.  When you are in your late fifties, lose your job, struggle to find another, have used all your savings and when your family and friends don’t help; the ground crumbles beneath your feet.   Too young to collect social security and apparently too old to fit into the "recent college grad wanted" jobs.  In the meantime we are being ignored, looked over, broken and beaten.   THANK YOU FOR WRITING THIS ARTICLE.  I’m going to find a way to get it to my Governor, Senator and anyone else I can get to pay attention.  I’m not going to give up and I can’t be the only one!!
Diane Nilan Hear-us: 
I’ve been at Chicago area suburban shelters where women my age (62) were told they couldn’t stay for lack of room. I’d prefer that they didn’t HAVE to stay, but when no options exist for women (men and/or families, too) with limited income and no place to live, they should AT LEAST be able to find a safe, compassionate, relatively comfortable emergency place to stay. But the whole system of housing income-challenged people is shamefully broken. Rose, continue to shine the light on this kind of travesty…as hard as it is to chronicle. So very, very outrageously
This is just heartbreaking. I am a young woman and roughing it through the tough job market as I prepare to graduate university and relocate. My aunt (who is 50 years old) and I have lived together for years (I invited her to come live with me, in fact). She works as a teacher’s assistant and makes a salary of just 13k/year. This a woman from a military background, years of work as a substitute teacher and teacher’s assistant, a woman who is ridiculously intelligent and probably one of the best workers anyone could ask for. We are both worried about whether she’ll be able to find a comparable job when we relocate after my graduation. Her situation troubles me deeply. So, as I read this article, my heart just broke for these women and as I thought about how easily my aunt (if it weren’t for me and a decently connected family) could be in the same boat as the women in the article. Women (young and old), we have to stick