I’m so depressed and enraged by the news today. I was just watching the national news on one of the big networks–I don’t remember which–and there was a story about the horrors going on in Darfur. Of course I was already aware of the situation, with the seemingly constant celebrity attention. However, today’s news report put a very human face on the problem. To see babies and children, mothers and fathers facing the threat of genocide really affected me. Sure, as a black woman, I’ve faced my share of racism and blind hatred of who I am, but I’ve never been forced to be a refugee because of it. The only people that I know personally who could possibly relate are my grandparents (R.I.P. all of them) and their friends because they were living in the dangerous pre civil-rights era and lived with the constant threat of being lynch-mobbed or burned at the stake by cowardly men in white sheets.
Watching that story made me question the level of depravity in this country, particularly from our government. We just closed the books on a particularly insidious election season where people were arguing about so-called moral issues like gay marriage and abortion. I’m sitting here wondering how anybody could really give a damn that two same-sex people who love each other want to be married when people are dying unnecessarily in record numbers. The friggin politicos can spend unheard of amounts of money on drafting stupid legislation and funding a fucked-up war but act like they’re broke when it comes to stopping the Janjaweed from killing innocent people? Come on now.
This is supposed to be THE world superpower, and we flex our military muscle when it comes to causes that will ultimately benefit us or support our beliefs. But let a group of innocent people be run out of their homes because of some stupid racial/ethnic rift, we turn a half-closed eye. Why aren’t our troops out stomping this bullshit out? Why aren’t we working to rebuild their homes and villages and incorporate a democracy for them? I’m not even going to touch the race card on this one, but yeah the disinfranchised people in Darfur look more like me than the Iraqis. I’m praying this isn’t a factor in the lack of organized response.
Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Ethiopia, Darfur. Sure there was a response from this country in each of those places, but after a while it seemed that when we opened our wallets to help them all that was left were some flies. Empty pockets, empty promises. Even outside of the political realm this appears to be true. Remember the “Feed the Children”-types of charity ads from the 80s and 90s? What did you see? Little starving, maggot infested, native African babies. Now you see little Central American babies and children. I’m not in any way saying the plight of the Central American children is less important than the Ethiopian and Rwandans–it is equally important and needs to be addressed just as quickly. What I am saying though is it seems these charities have forgotten the puffy bellied, malaria and AIDS infested children from the mother continent. A friend of mine travelled to Ethiopia this past May and she was also there in 1985, and she said it looks like nothing has changed. There’s actually less food to go around in some areas, and babies are dying of AIDS with a quickness never seen here.
To say that I’m saddened and angered by the response by the government to the situation in Darfur and elsewhere in Africa (not to mention the rampant homlessness and poverty in our own damn country) would be an understatement. I realize that we’ve gotten ourselves into a jacked-up mess over in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we have to deal with that. But with the amount of money being spent there, you’d think that we’d be willing to go farther into debt to help some other down-trodden people. For the sake of humanity, if not for any other reason.
I’ll be finding ways to contribute to relief efforts in the Sudan, and I hope you will too. If you know of any reputable charities, please let me know. I’m not a rich woman, but damn, they need my money more than the mall does.