As we watch and listen to the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that has literally flattened Port-au-Prince, Haiti, it’s time to do more than watch and listen. At the time of this writing 200,000 Haitians are probably dead. They are estimating well over 500,000. A large portion of my friends are Haitians or descendants of Haitians. They are telling me that it’s much worse than what we are being shown. So I ask you and I ask myself: What are we going to do?
Unlike the United States, Haiti can not bounce back from destruction on this level. We have the infrastructure, man power and MONEY to rebuild. They on the other hand, do not. Haiti is literally one of, if not, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Nearly 80 percent of Haitians live in ABSOLUTE poverty. The plight of the poor and disadvantaged started many many years ago and they are still suffering. The international community’s role, human rights violations, oppression, corruption to name a few, is part of this country’s poverty problem. The country of Haiti was made to pay France reparations for freeing themselves from slavery hundreds of years ago. How is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere able to pay reparations? So the people of Haiti aren’t these savages unable to do for themselves as they have been portrayed by the media. They are a people and a country that had some of their basic needs to survive stripped from them. So I ask you: What are you going to do?It shouldn’t have taken a devastating earthquake for us to move, but as the old saying goes: BETTER LATE THAN NEVER. And as horrific as this sounds, maybe this earthquake was the wake up call most of us sleeping dead needed. Many of us are so far removed from what is happening outside of our own little circle, coupled with the blatant misrepresentation of facts about Haiti, many of you had no clue about what was happening there. Well now we do. Some of you are saying “well what about the ones right here in our own country that need help? What about Hurricane Katrina victims in New Orleans and the city itself? What about the 11% of Americans that are now unemployed?” Those are all good questions. There are parts of New Orleans that look like Katrina happened yesterday. We need to help our fellow citizens as well but the difference is opportunity. The American Dream is what brought most of the people from their homeland to this new land. Because of the opportunity to live a life free of many of the ailments from their home country, many come here for that alone. The possibility of a country like ours bouncing back from devastation has been proven over our history. Opportunity and possibility is next to nothing in a country like Haiti. We live in a country where hope is as natural as breathing. They live in a country where hopelessness is as natural as breathing. When Oprah Winfrey built that school for girls in Africa, she was asked the same thing. I even asked myself why she decided not to build in the United States. She said that the girls in the area the school is in CAN NOT go to school. They do not have the opportunity to go because most are not allowed to go or there is no school for them to attend. In the U.S. a child HAS to be schooled in some way by law. That is the key difference. Opportunity. So I ask you: What are you going to do?Donations now are good, but what about next month? And the month after that? What happens when CNN leaves Haiti and the urgency we felt during the immediate days after the earthquake is gone? It’s going to take more than feeling bad for Haiti and donating that first week. It’s going to take more than just donating all together. There needs to be a serious infrastructure created there. An infrastructure that will not be destroyed by corruption and oppression or some silly international “beef”. What can we do as an international community to change the course of Haiti’s future? Instead of just donating to Red Cross how about creating business there? How about an agricultural system which was Haiti’s biggest source of funding? How about we demand the leaders of France to payback the reparations they received from Haiti? Can you imagine Jewish people being made to pay Hitler for the genocide of their people coming to an end? Can you imagine Africans and/or African Americans paying reparations to the U.S. or any other country involved in the Trans Atlantic Slave trade because slavery and the African genocide ended? Something MUCH larger than donations needs to happen. We can donate until we are blue in the face. If an infrastructure is not there to keep things afloat, then what is the purpose? So I ask you: What are you going to do?
This is a call to action. I challenge you to do something. The people of Haiti do not have the basic needs of survival. They have no food and water. People are literally starving. We can no longer sit by idle knowing that there is another human on this planet suffering the way they are. We spent $1 billion to go see “Avatar”. Are you willing to pledge the amount of the movie ticket every week or month? That extra $10 you were going to spend on absolutely nothing this week, can you donate it to relief efforts instead? To the millionaires who were on their way to purchase their 5th or 6th car or upgrade their private jet, will you donate that money instead? To you CEOs looking at opening 5 more stores in the United States, will you trade 1 U.S. store for 1 in Haiti? This is not a white issue. This is not a Black issue. This is not a Haitian issue. This is a HUMANANITY issue. Because at the end of the day we all bleed red.
Ways to help:
The Haitian Alliance
The American Red Cross
Doctors Without Borders (A international medical humanitarian organization)
Mercy Corps (Helps create secures and productive communities)
MAP International (Provides essential medicines to poor countries)
Hope For Haiti
Habitat for Humanity International