Monday, January 25, 2010

suddenly notice their own nation's poverty

I've been hearing from several sources about another common white tendency that's cropped up lately, in response to requests for aid to Haiti. It seems to be a kind of weird, shifty excuse for refusing to contribute.

One emailer put it this way --


Following the horrifying storm Katrina, many were moved and mobilized to help nationwide. In fact, international assistance arrived for the Katrina refugees. In the wake of the disastrously executed FEMA response, I dealt with many white people that grumbled that they weren't going to send money to Katrina victims, when there were needy in their own neighborhoods.

Today on a social networking site I had a dispute with another white person that said that:

GUESS WHAT? People in YOUR community need your help. Call your local food pantry, homeless shelter, Victims Intervention Program, and Disabled Veterans...they are among the forgotten causes the Hollyweird crowd never thinks to hold telethons for...but they quietly work in your area helping those in need. They need you...r help as much as Haiti; maybe more, as nobody's on TV tugging at your purse strings for THEM.

The only problem? Any other time they are complaining about the same folks in the community as being lazy ne'er do wells that only want a hand out. And that they shouldn't be beholden to help people that make poor choices. They weren't concerned with their "homegrown" (read: American/White) needy...until money and resources were gathered to assist Haiti.

The same could be said about some white people before Katrina. They saw no need to mitigate the suffering within their neighborhoods/cities/states...particularly if the assistance was for people of color that they deemed lazy ne'er-do-wells.

Any insight?

Over at Blackfolks, pradagirl writes in a similar vein,

Lately I've noticed a disproportionate amount of white folk complaining about the humanitarian aide being sent to Haiti. Their main gripe is that there's enough poverty, homelessness etc in this country that we should be helping ourselves as a nation instead of helping the people in Haiti.

Hearing stuff like this really angers me and the more they try to defend this position the more my anger grows. Yes, we do have a lot of issues that we need to deal with as a nation but isn't it our responsibility to help our fellow human beings when such a catastrophic tragedy befalls them?

And one more example, from a comment thread at Abagond about Haiti, where leigh204 writes,

I organized a bake sale with baked goodies costing $3 a pop. We managed to raise over a grand. I heard a co-worker remark how fast the baked goods sold. (We could barely keep up.) Then she remarked that it was sad people only opened their wallets when there was a national disaster and that people should be helping their own first. I replied, “What do you mean by helping our own? We’re helping those who need our help.” She replied, “There are poor, homeless people suffering here, too. You don’t see others opening their wallets for them, do you?” I agreed with her that charity begins at home, but Haitians needed immediate help. She shook her head and said she would rather help the people at home first (Canada). Unbelievable.

So just what is this apparently common white tendency? And what causes it?

I think it's all too easy to dismiss this kind of response to requests for donations to Haiti as a mere excuse from people who won't help out no matter what the disaster. It may be merely that for some people, but I suspect that for most of these "Clean up your own backyard!" types, something else is going on here -- racism.

I think this common white response can be a way of excusing oneself for not doing anything to help poor, specifically black people. In that kind of white mind, troubles that black people have are always their own fault, and that means that no matter what those troubles are, "I myself as a white person shouldn't feel a need to do anything about it." Again, it's an ultimately racist response, because it ignores the larger, ongoing context of de facto white supremacy. Motivations for this response might also go as deep, and as unacknowledged in the white mind, as not wanting to do anything about widespread black problems because that would mean admitting that blacks DON'T bring all their problems on themselves.

"And if that's true," the common white thinking, or maybe feeling, seems to go, "if it's true, that is, that we still live in a racist society, then my being white might mean that I have some connection to black people's problems -- maybe even some responsibility for having helped to cause them. Which would then mean that I have some responsibility for helping to fix them."

All of which is too much for most white people to deal with, especially about themselves, and about their own place within a racist social order. It's so much easier to ignore and forget our vague awareness that black people still don't get an even chance in society, and furthermore, that as a direct consequence of that, we get more than an even chance. Just because we're white. That's the kind of stuff that white people are basically, subtly told they should ignore and forget.

And of course, another part of the white mind that I think is at work here, another common white perception, is something that commenters have repeatedly pointed out on this blog lately -- black and other non-white lives just aren't as valued by white minds and hearts as white lives are. The evidence of that elsewhere is almost endless, from the continued popularity among white people of a racist death penalty, to the Missing White Girl Syndrome, from white indifference to racially disproportionate sentencing and incarceration rates, to the white-framed media's tendency to linger voyeuristically over dead black bodies (which contrasts with its respectful refusal to do so in most cases of dead white bodies).

"But then," some part of the average white mind would say, "Valuing black lives less than white ones? That's a terrible thing to believe! That's RACIST! And I certainly am not a racist! So no, I don't believe that. Of course I value all human lives the same. I'm well aware, thank you, that non-white people are just that, 'people.'"

You'll very rarely get a white person to admit, or even realize, that they value black lives less than white ones. But usually, at some level, they do. As I was trying to get at in this post, white people have been trained to do that. And so, when some part of them doesn't feel that all that money and other forms of aid should be going to help black people in Haiti, they find excuses for not contributing, including this particular "your own backyard" one, about people nearby needing it instead.

Again, I doubt that most white people even realize that they're being racist when they they think and feel that way. They're used to telling black people that their problems are their own fault, and that they need to help themselves and "their own kind." Suddenly being asked to help black people, here or abroad, just doesn't seem right, in part because it doesn't fit with what they've been led by a racist society to generally think and feel about black people.

And so, expressing sudden concern about "the poverty at home" can seem like a legitimate way of refusing to send help over there.

I may be missing something, but I think that's basically why a lot of white people resort to this excuse by way of explaining their refusal to contribute toward aid for Haitians. 

What do you think explains it?

I also recognize that on the other hand, white Americans do often care about, and contribute toward alleviating, poverty in "Africa." Are any of those people the same ones who would use the above excuse, and/or others, by way of refusing to contribute toward earthquake relief in Haiti? If so, what's the difference for them, between contributing to "Africans" and contributing to Haitians?


  1. Not that it really explains anything, but I see this as part of the unwillingness to take responsibility for what white people have done in the past -- whether in Haiti, or the Middle East, or the slave trade -- although we're generally OK with taking the privilege that comes with those past actions.

  2. I've noticed this a lot too.

    As for the Africa thing, the only explanations I can think of are:

    a) that it's "trendy" with celebrities to worry about Africa (and you can do it just by buying t-shirts!)

    b) that children are often the face of campaigns for Africa, and people are less racist when it comes to children (likely because they're malleable?)

    An assessment by my friend Jennifer Brea might help:

  3. I have definitely witnessed this "but what about poor Americans?!" response lately. I think your explanation accounts for much of it. I had an in depth conversation with a buddy over FB about it when she posted something to that effect. I agreed with her sentiment that people should act locally as well as globally, but that the key is to do BOTH, not use one as an excuse not to do the other. I mean, I already do donate time and money to local issues. So, why should I hesitate to also give internationally? I think many people who throw out this line of reasoning don't follow it up with local action themselves; it is just what you've described it as: an excuse. In particular, if these people aren't already giving money or volunteering in their communities, why are they suddenly so concerned when another population is in need? I also think that a lot of very nationalist patriotic Americans have an us vs. them mentality that I just don't have. As my [black] pastor said yesterday while raising money for Haiti, they are our brothers too. We are all citizens of the world. I don't save my compassion for those only in close proximity to me.

  4. re: 'I doubt that most white people even realize that they're being racist when they they think and feel that way. They're used to telling black people that their problems are their own fault, and that they need to help themselves and "their own kind."'

    As convoluted as the our-own-backyard excuse appears, it and even more elaborate contortions are psychologically necessary when the very core of whiteness is threatened. Racism depends on white people not noticing, on everyone accepting it as part of human nature. To acknowledge that the subordinate position of PoC--and in particular black people--is not of their own making is to completely shatter the psychic base from which we WP operate. Our own legitimacy and identity is threatened when we look at the world without that distorting lens. That's the depravity of racism and why it will take a huge effort and change in our society to be rid of it. But just questioning our racist assumptions--that victims of oppression always cause their own misfortune, and that racism is the natural way of the world--is an important first step.

  5. I knew the day would come - the day when Haiti's 15 minutes were up. White people are in search of the next tragedy, preferably one involving WP.

    Are people really this fucking stupid and insensitive? WP were the FIRST to complain about Haitians coming to south Florida in droves before the quake. The Haitians could barely pull ashore before we sent them back or held them in detentions centers until they begged to go back.

    Did WP think, "Hmm, perhaps life in Haiti is so unbearable that maybe these Haitians were willing to die to pursue their dreams. Perhaps we, being Haiti's biggest fattest, wealthiest neighbors, should help them get to the point where at least everyone's basic needs are being met so they won't feel so hopeless and keep risking their lives to come here" ??? NO! OF COURSE NOT! That would actually be a logical response. WP simply said, "Send them back! They're a drain on the government and our resources!"

    Now that everything has been decimated, do you think WP would get the picture? OF COURSE NOT! They want everyone to shut up about Haiti now so they can go back to being oblivious to poverty and human suffering. I know it costs money to bring people up from being knocked down but here's the shocker - it also costs a real, live, human, emotional investment as well. If you were severely injured in a car accident and the EMT came and threw money at you and left, how helpful would that be? Think about it. You would hope EMT personnel would have the compassion to help you beyond paying for your doctor bills, right?

    Here it is for the selfish people out there who have some more slick ass comments about how Haiti was already being "helped" before this with foreign aid: IT'S NOT ENOUGH TO THROW MONEY AT HAITI! It hasn't worked in all these years, it's not going to work now. It costs the US less money to actually get in there and give a shit, help Haiti rebuild in a productive way, give them an economy again that produces things people around the world need so they're not dependent on foreign aid to make essential ends meet. Help them build a water and sanitation system in more areas than just Port au Prince (it creates jobs - OMG!) so that when disaster strikes again they don't suffer and die from a lack of WATER. How long will we send jugs of water over? Really?

    It just seems like common sense to me. I've already heard people worrying that an influx of Haitians will arrive here soon because of the earthquake. WTF?! We need to step up and do something bigger than tell them, "Hey good luck with rebuilding everything! Take care now."

  6. People who make these comments are really saying this: "Who gives a shit about those people. Instead they give the old "what about helping those at home?" In reality they don't and have never done so in any capacity. Instead they offer up this reasoning. Do either two things, STFU or STFU. Theses are two different things, a diversionary tactic if one existed. As for 'helping' those in their own 'neighbourhood' they have never done so, I wouldn't be surprised if they refer to these same people in terms that are accusatory, in that they are the masters of their own fate. Again to all those clowns who make these remarks STFU!

  7. Oh please I'm not buying it! Any White person who brings up "What about the homeless people, and poor people in our country" are hypocrites. They know damn well that America has bought attention to people who are poor and homeless in our country. They do nothing but derail and pull the whole bootstrap victim blaming argument when we bring awareness to the unprivledge people in America.

  8. @Victoria, who saidIt just seems like common sense to me. I've already heard people worrying that an influx of Haitians will arrive here soon because of the earthquake.:

    Ah, but it's only the adult Haitians we don't want coming over here. Everyone and their mother has their hands out to snag a cute Haitian "orphan" child. (I've been following the developments on some of the anti-racist blogs that focus on international adoption; it's pretty appalling.)

    As for the post itself: yeah, I used to be one of those people. I saw helping the rest of the world as "nice", but helping our "own people" as being necessary. (The one thing I can say is that at least I do have a long history of volunteering in various community programs.) If asked I would have said bluntly that my "own tribe" matters more to me than people on the other side of the world. ("Tribe" sounds so much less racist than saying "race".) I also divided it even further; I only volunteered with programs that helped my own subculture (LGBT). But I'm sure had anyone tried to point out that my stance was racist, I would have been very offended. I'm not racist! Most of my friends are Asian! I date Asian boys! *sigh* So yeah, I can certainly understand the mindset, since I spent a good number of years having it myself.

  9. That's the first I've heard of that argument. I didn't hear it when the Boxing Day Tsunami happened in Southeast Asia. But maybe I just wasn't listening to that crowd. What I do remember was that the media showed how some Aussies donated lots, and the government sure did make a real good impression with their $1 Billion dollar pledge (the government made sure they made an impression).

  10. i agree that "there's suffering going on, i'm not donating to haiti" is toxic and vacuous and in many instances does reflect racism.

    but i was wondering:

    if the tragedy that befell haiti had happened in an equally poor but mostly white country, would this blog be criticizing mainstream white america's outpouring of sympathy and donations as inconsistent with its day-to-day disregard for the poor, suffering [and frequently black] people in our own backyards?

  11. My aunt has made a comment similar to the last one. She would rather give to family and friends before anyone else. She's not interested in giving money to Africa either. Any inquiry into why doesn't get much of a response or explanation. I wonder if she's donated to Haiti. I think we've given up on understanding.

  12. Why aren't my comments being posted? It's funny how the "diversity crowd" has no tolerance for diversity of opinion. Typical.

  13. @Pinky,

    Because this blog is about stuff white people do, not stuff black people do. I have no problem with diversity of opinion here, as long as it's on topic, not insulting, etc.

  14. @o_O,

    To answer the question you posed, I do not think this type of discourse would take place because the type of rhetoric that necessitated the conversation would not occur.

    There would be no question... Immediate humanitarian support would be the expectation.

    (As it is now, except it never comes to fruition when PoC are the primary group impacted by the tragedy. Remember how surprised many (W?) people were with the response to Hurricane Katrina? Or lack thereof...)

    It is paramount to ensure the safety of nonPoC. There would be minimal concerns about the safety of the doctors, nurses, military personnel, rescue teams,etc. that have come to assist in the tragedy; the only threat would be from the real dangers caused by the disaster. Air lifts would be immediate because there would be no fear of hoarding, stealing, selling needed goods for profit, and violence at the drop sites. The expectation would be that the victims would behave like of civilized individuals. And any behavior to the contrary would be sited as an outlier; an acting out caused by the extremely distressing situation that was upon the individual. Of course this behavior would not be used to deem the whole of the group unfit to receive aid.

    NonPoC have the inalienable right to be individuals. That freedom is not shared by PoC.
    (If you do not believe me consider this: When was the last time you watched the news, heard about some EXTRA trifling, criminal shit, and the first thought that came to your mind is OMG, PLEEEASE don’t let him be White!!!!? It happens to me everyday.)

    I do not think anyone is critical of charitable giving to Haiti; suspicious of the motivations…perhaps. I understood the issue to be the rhetoric offered in an effort to derail fundraising efforts for Haiti, and the underlying racist assumptions and beliefs behind them.

  15. OMG!!! Macon D, of course you are right on time :-)

  16. I was shocked to see white people comparing the suffering in Haiti to poverty in the US, too. Like, impoverished people in developed countries eat red meat only a few times a year at most, how often do poor people in the US eat red meat? Impoverished people in developing countries don't have access to clean water or regular electricity. Their children are destined to grow up illiterate. Their young children die of rotavirus and other causes of diarrhea. How dare any American compare American poverty to poverty in a developing country, especially after that country has suffered such a devastating distaster. Mind boggling! It is just sheer arrogance and a form of trying to excuse oneself from cold hearted stingyness.

  17. @macon d

    Okay, Keith Knight is my new favorite :-)

  18. I've gotten this kind of crap in lots of work I've done in the past, both "charitable" and "activist". At this point what I tell people is "If you think it's so much more worthy to 'help your own' then go do it! Meanwhile stop denouncing others for trying to do something good."

    Often it works and gets them to realize how ridiculous their behavior is (and that they're too lazy to actually do anything themselves), but I don't think it will necessarily get them to notice their racism.

  19. Glad you like him, TMB. He really can pack a lot of insight into a single-panel cartoon.

  20. @Macon D

    Have you heard about this one??? Apparently the Lt. Gov. of South Carolina has a real problem with children on free and reduced lunch...

    And many others.

    I think at the core, the rhetoric espoused by this individual mirrors the attitudes that fuel the negative attitudes towards aid for Haiti. Though he is a lot more forthcoming in his reasoning...

  21. Yes TakeMulattoBack, I did hear about that monster. I think his word choices were calculated; he's throwing red meat to his voters. And yes, it's just a more naked version of the kind of white dehumanizing of POC that I wrote about in this post.

  22. @ Robin

    So true. How could I forget the kids? When the adults arrive we'll complain that they'll end up on our welfare system. But when they get jobs after arriving here, we'll complain that they're "taking our jobs."

  23. LuckyFatima:

    I so agree with your comment. Poor Americans canNOT be compared on the same level as poor people in other countries such as Haiti, Pakistan, Bolivia, Palestine, Mongolia, Bangladesh, etc... no running water, no electricity, etc. it's just not the same.

  24. Yep, there will always be people who will complain about others helping suffering people. They will always find a reason to belittle the efforts of people of empathy, whether those people are white or POC, especially if the recipient is considered "different" in some way. It's infuriating!

    However, I do find it encouraging that when I tried to make a donation the other day to the celebrity telethon, that it took me an hour to get through. Apparently, there are a lot of people that care and see the incredible need in this situation, regardless of the distance or color of the people involved.

    Also, several of the churches in my area, both those that are primarily POC and those that are primarily white, are very involved in raising both funds and basic necessities for the people of Haiti. Many that have gone for missions in the past are preparing for an increased effort in the rebuilding to come. That's "stuff caring people do", white or POC.

  25. I swear today is the day when SWPD posts correlate perfectly with my real life! :-)

    Two things:

    1. Today in my Inequities in Mental Health class as we discussed poverty, I remarked that White people/Americans like to give to Africa because the attitude toward the continent is "Let's help and uplift these poor (Black) people!" Essentially, giving is OK when the receivers are infantalized. (That's my $20 word of the day.)

    2. The argument criticized by this post is similar to the "Most White people in the US are poor" argument. For some reason, that statement (not the fact itself, but the mention of it by a White person) irritates me. Probably because I see it as a spinning of the situation--people feel it's more acceptable to support the "hardworking single White woman who's just trying to make it" than the "brokedown ghetto Black woman who's too lazy to do anything with her life".

  26. [First off--feel free to ignore/tear apart this comment for any of the following reasons:
    a) I am derailing by making this "all about me". It's a personal conundrum I'm asking about, and I realize that that betrays a certain level of self-centeredness, which I should be steering myself away from.
    b) I worry that it gives the impression that I am primarily concerned with deflecting criticism from myself, when I realize that accepting criticism and internalizing it and growing from it is an important and necessary process.
    c) I am doing something else that I shouldn't be doing. I am new to this type of discourse and I could easily be betraying all sorts of prejudices of which I am not yet conscious. So let me know.
    Anyway, on to my original question...]

    Ok, so, I have a question. I just got back from being isolated from the media for a month, and I've spent the past two days soaking in news. And my first reaction to being inundated with info about the earthquake was, I need to go to Haiti. Maybe not now, but at some point when they need more than just trained medical professionals. I've given money, I want to do more.

    But then I thought, oh god, what if the only reason I'm thinking about Haiti is because it's all over the news, and there are telethons, etc... I didn't have an impulse to go volunteer in Haiti before the quake, and they certainly could have used me then as well--it seems hypocritical to want to go rushing off to a place just because George Clooney is imploring me to.

    New Orleans still needs volunteers, why not go there? Heck, I live in DC, and we certainly have our share of problems. I could stick with the nonprofit I work for here in the city and worry less (though still some) about being perceived as a "missionary" who drops into a community I don't know and tries to assuage my privileged guilt by doing good for a month or two.

    I went through this whole train of thought, and then I found this blogpost, and my first thought was, Oh, shit, that's exactly what I was doing. But the more I read about the rationale, the less sure I was. Is my thinking the same? Am I at fault for other reasons? I am often skeptical of Americans who go do service abroad, since in some ways it seems like an easy way to avoid acknowledging the problems that exist in our own country. However, I don't want to deny help to people (Haitians or others) who need it just because of my own elaborate equivocating.

    Most of all I want to do something. And I accept that it's hard to take any action without being at fault in some way, but I would like to do the thing that is the least hypocritical. What do I do?

    And another question that pertains less directly to me--if a (white) person were to make the "take care of your own" argument, and refuse to give aid to the Haitians, but then actually follow through and make some sort of substantial contribution to an organization that helps the needy in his/her own community, would they still be vulnerable to the criticism of this post? What if the people they did help were predominately white? What if they were predominately PoCs? There seem to be two separately problems here: one is making excuses without actually doing anything, while the other is being unwilling to help people of color. To me, they appear intertwined but not identical.

    And I'm a multiracial middle class female, for what it's worth.

  27. The fact that charity is seen as an either/or proposition seems peculiar, since most people give to more than one organization or cause. Bringing up the false dichotomy seems like an excuse to me, and seems likely to be due to racism of the potential donor, abetted by racist reports of "looting" out of proportion to any non-survival stealing. (By the way, what's the big deal about occasional theft of non-essentials in a time of utter chaos and profound need? Is it a surprise that a large population contains a few dim-witted jerks who would rather carry around useless stuff than water and food? The real news ought to be "relief efforts working, or not; most people cooperating, or not.)

    Not all claims to prefer giving locally must be racist per se. Other possibilities include:
    1. Cheapskate doesn't want to contribute to anything, and will tell domestic charity solicitors the opposite story - giving to X in country Y.
    2. Donor may live in majority-black location, and it's pretty likely that the majority needing services will also be black.

  28. Hello,
    I've been a long time lurker here and just wanted to add my two pennyworth for this entry.
    I agree that the kind of attitude mentioned in this blog entry can be attributed to general cheapness and a Scrooge like attitude.
    However, I sometimes get frustrated that those in poverty in my own country are treated with disdain but causes and groups that fight for those in poverty abroad get so much more positive media coverage and a general positive attitude from the public.
    In the past I did voluntary work for OXFAM and when I mentioned it in conversation I only ever got a poverty response. Now I do some voluntary work with homeless people and while I've had mostly positive reactions I have also had almost aggressive reactions from some friends. "Why would you want anything to do with those people" being an example of the sort of statement I've heard.
    It seems to me that in my own country (Britain) we have a culture of blaming the poor and the homeless as though they were entirely to blame for their situation. You hear talk of 'scroungers' and 'layabouts on the dole' and so on. Many of these comments are directed towards immigrant populations too. There is very little media coverage or general acceptance of the fact that poverty is a trap and a downward spiral and that most people face significant barriers to getting out of it. They simplify the situation claiming that people wouldn't be poor if they just tried hard enough.
    Conversely everyone wants to help the poor in some countries. Not Eastern European countries where there is poverty, there is a lot of resentment over the fact that these countries are receiving extra funding from the EU for example. But countries that are in Africa or countries that were effected by the Tsunami in 2004. In this case again we seem to over simplify the situation. If we just sent enough money, library books, celebrities then everything will be fine. We seem to underestimate the magnitude of the problem and be willing only to provide a quick fix. My big concern for Haiti as a nation is what sort of support it will be receiving in 6 months time during the long and heavy slog towards recovery.
    Naturally we should, and can if we are willing to make the effort, help the poor both home and abroad.

  29. Not to narrow this into a political ideology thing, but the same people that have been posting the anti-Haiti crap are, by and large, the same people that post crap about mandatory drug testing for welfare and "outrage" over "illegals." Apparently they are operating under the assumption that if you hide your bigotry under a veneer of self-righteousness, then it isn't bigotry.

    And I agree with fromthetropics that this is a relatively new argument. I assume it is coming from some conservative mouthpiece. Glenn Beck et al. are giving people "talking points" to make them feeler (a) smarter (b) morally superior and (c) internally justified in their bigotry.

  30. [Joseph, Like other commenters here, I'm getting tired of reading your rather long comments on things that are only tangentially related to the discussion at hand, i.e., a direct focus on some example of "stuff white people do." Please try to read more closely for that topic, and then limit your comments to it. ~macon]

  31. This very interesting post was referred to me, and I'm grateful for that. It seems it's my obligation, as a white guy guilty of at least the initial portion of this dilemma, to attempt -- albeit naively and feebly -- to defend himself. (I can no more defend White People than anyone can be expected to speak for a collective race.)

    1) My family donated time and money to efforts post-Katrina. I'm fairly certain it didn't go to help the Aryan Brotherhood. In fact, it sure felt to me like an enormous percentage of those most severely affected by Katrina were poor and, pertinent to this post, minority. So I'm not sure why my feeling more compelled to reach out to them, as opposed to Haiti, should make me racist. It might make me (in this instance) nationalist, but not racist.

    2) Although few if any Americans should ever get the feeling like they could do "enough" for those in need, there is a reasonable line most of us feel comfortable drawing in our time and money that says we are doing all that should be reasonably expected of us. Those of you who don't do this, I hope you're reading this from a public library terminal and sending the money you could use on Internet service to Haiti.

    3) Haiti was in need long, long, long before this earthquake. And certain groups have long been involved. But this bum rush to aid them now is frustrating because a small fraction of the money being sent now could have saved thousands of lives had we given one s#it about Haiti prior to the earthquake. But we -- and this isn't just white people, it's America -- don't seem to care about something until we can see it on TV.

    I know enough to know accusations of racism are almost impossible to defend against, especially when being white in this country carries with it some justified portion of that accusation. BUT... my not wanting to take money away from those charitable causes in which I believe and have long supported? And to be angry that Haiti only gets attention when its tragedy is televised? That's not racist. That's fact.

    It's unsettling and aggravating to read this and feel accused of something unfair, but I appreciate that feeling, and it requires me to revisit my thoughts and attitudes on this. So thank you for putting it out there, and I hope my reactions to it are appreciated for their non-trolling sincerity... at the risk of seeming ignorant or foolish.


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