Miley Cyrus tackles youth homelessness at the VMAs

By Caitlyn Schmid| comments | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
blog Culture Social Justice Young Adults

Although I’m not usually a fan of Miley Cyrus and her sometimes... ahem... interesting decisions, I’d like to give her kudos for the acceptance speech to a room full of Hollywood’s most glamorous on behalf of her Video Music Award for “Wrecking Ball.” (Which, might I add, was much better than last year's performance.)

Instead of taking the stage to accept the award herself, Cyrus turned the mic over to a young man named Jesse:

“I am accepting this award on behalf of the 1.6 million runaways and homeless youth in the United States who are starving, lost and scared for their lives right now. I know this because I am one of these people,” Jesse shared. He detailed how he has been surviving in the shelters of Los Angeles and working side jobs for money.

Here's the full acceptance speech:

Get More: 2014 VMA, Artists.MTV, Music


Together Jesse’s and Cyrus’ stunt has helped raise awareness of this ongoing issue. Although some are saying that the stunt was simply for PR purposes, awareness is the first step in solving a problem. And youth homelessness and poverty, as Scott Alessi pointed out last week, is a problem that’s getting younger and younger due to unemployment, debt, and other factors.

Cyrus’ campaign for ending youth homelessness started a few weeks ago. She is focusing on My Friend’s Place, a homeless shelter for youth in Los Angeles. If you’re interested in donating, you can visit her site here.

“If only,” laments one commenter on the Huffington Post’s article on the Video Music Awards story, “we could find a room full of millionaires to fund this?”

The comment Jesse made that has stuck with me was this: “I've been an extra in your movies; I've been an extra in your life. Though I may have been invisible to you on the streets, I have a lot of the same dreams that brought many of you here tonight."

This is exactly what Pope Francis has been stressing with all of his talk for a culture of encounter. These vulnerable populations are in need of our help; we cannot simply ignore them and hope the problem goes away. The cannot just be "extras" in our lives. We must be sensitive and aware of everyone with whom we come into contact, for we never know when we will encounter God along the way.

Image: Miley Cyrus in 2008, Wikimedia cc by Music4mix CC-BY-SA-3.0