I posted an extended version of this on my blog at Give Orange
, but wanted DKos community responses. So here is the simplified version. Up front, I'm not purporting to have the answers or even say racism is behind the lack of aid, just ask a question.
Here is the simple question: Can ONE succeed without addressing issues of racism and ethno-centric attitudes?
This morning I was watching Bob Costas'
sports show when guest,Tom Brokaw said something
peculiar. He was discussing a piece he did about the science of extraordinary athletes that showed that many of them are black and the anger he endured over that and said, "Racism is the great unresolved issue of our time." (emphaisis mine)
Brokaw's statement struck me as similar to the language used by celebrities like Brad Pitt and Bono recently in discussing African poverty. Brad Pitt in discussing
The ONE Campaign.
[All the goods below the flip]
Here is Brad Pitt's
statement from the Sawyer interview:
We have the potential to end poverty (in Africa) in our time . ... I mean, what is more exciting than that? The potential's there. We gotta go for it.
Here is one of Bono's "our time" statements while talking about the 2003 Human Development Report:
I am ready to march with my activist friends, to begin campaigns of civil disobedience, we are about to get very noisy, we are about to bang a lot of dust bin lids. This issue is the defining issue of our time...
Who is right? Is poverty the issue of our time? Is racism? Or, are they one in the same?
If the controversy of the 2001, UN World Racism Conference
is any indication, it is wise for The ONE organizers to avoid this
issue, but is it right? Can you talk about the need for military
intervention in Rwanda in the past or Sudan now without talking about
the perceived Kosovo double standard? Can you talk about our
governments reluctance to provide aid to African nations without a
mention that most citizens of those nations are black?
While you do find any mention of race relations and racism absent from
The ONE Campaign website, you will find a white wristband. In
fact, I couldn't believe the irony as I started researching for this
blog, but July 1, is "Global White Band Day."
White bands unite. Well, color me stunned! Too bad we
didn't have the wristband craze during the old S. Africa apartheid days.
Don't get me wrong, I think Bono is on the right track with the
simplicity of this campaign. ONE will maximize involvement and
voice by not asking for money and will educate many people about the
tragedy occurring in Africa. However, the move from voices to
action will not just occur through government commitments, but by
providing all those holding up their cell phones at U2 concerts with
action, and I have to say it...sorry...here it comes...sacrificial
The success of ONE, much like the US public's "support our troops"
attitude, is predicated on the fact that it requires no actual
sacrifice. Activists will not be able to mobilize these voices
beyond non-sacrificial acts until they give them better reasons and
more education. This is where issues like racism and
ethno-centricity (is that a word?) come in to play. The ONE
Campaign can succeed with its current mobilization, but in order to
move beyond pledges it must recognize that the "defining issue of our
time," is a complex ONE.