Feb 7, 2010

charity vs. solidarity


from an article in Canada's major paper, the Globe and Mail, by Rick Salutin

"Outside responses to the Haiti earthquake have come with smug side helpings of superiority and self-congratulation. The New York Times's David Brooks described Haitian culture as “progress-resistant” and prescribed “intrusive paternalism,” as if Haiti hasn't had 200 years of that. ...

This is the perennial underside of charity and generosity: a chance to feel simultaneously kind and morally superior while reinforcing the relations between those who have power and those who don't. Plus a component of taking vicarious pleasure, in a quasi porn-like way, in the misery of others. I'm thinking here of the insatiable news programming and the repeated requests by interviewers to “Tell us how you feel.” "

Yes! So how does solidarity do stories, do feelings, differently? My sense of it is that we don't poke and prod for how do you feel, but we do mourn together. Not mourn FOR you, but mourn with you. And ideally that inspires us to struggle with you to change the screwed up racist world system that led to this disaster. gauze not guns! US army out!

(image from the guardian.co.uk)


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