I’m sorry if you’ve checked my blog in the past couple of days and were disappointed by the lack of information on the recent earthquake in Haiti. Frankly, I’ve just been emotionally devastated by what happened, and I cannot even begin to wonder what folks who are from Haiti are going through. Let alone what the folks who are IN Haiti are going through.
And plus, when I’m talking to people, they will laugh at something I’ve said and I haven’t even meant to be funny. This happens all the time. I haven’t wanted to be humorous about the tragedy in Haiti and end up saying something inappropriate.
I feel sad. But I also know that much of what I’m feeling has to do with a collective feeling of sadness and reignited trauma that many people of African descent feel when we see other Sistren and Brethren of the Diaspora suffering. Whenever we see groups of black people having a bad time, we feel that bad time with them. I felt the same way when I saw the tragedies on TV in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Angry. Very sad. Extremely powerless.
In the case of Haiti, I do know the United States government has some failed policies in that country, and they are many and varied, and you can also blame the U.S. for horrible political shenanigans that we have caused in the country as well. So although there’s really only one Entity you can blame for an earthquake, still you can blame the U.S. for the fact that there’s a crisis of political leadership within Haiti right now.
You know, a preacher I knew used to say that, in the case of entering the ministry, “Some are called. Some are sent. And some are sent by they mama.” This is a well-known saying in our community, but I never knew why until this day.
Pat Robertson’s mother packed him a ham sandwich and then dropped him off at Divinity School in her station wagon. When what she really needed to have done is use her birth control in the first place.
If he can say what he said, then I can say what I want to say, too.
So, yes, I said it. It had to be said.
What we are doing now–and by “we,” I mean black people–is waiting to see if Obama is really a Stone-Cold Brother with a Big “B”, or just a lowercase brother when he needs the Negro vote. He seems to have leaped into action on Haiti, and so, I am proud that I can call him Brother with a Big “B”, even if I don’t always agree with his other policies. I reserve the right to wait for the “Stone Cold” part, however.
Surely, there are some particular black folks in our midst who don’t feel personally involved in all aspects of black folks around the globe. And I don’t criticize those particular folks. I understand where the impulse comes from. But the connection I feel to other black people is strong. It’s not just strong. It’s visceral.
That’s why I’m asking black folks to give what you can to aid organizations that are helping Haiti. I’ve given a bit–and it’s just a bit, when you put it next to the dollars that are needed to help and then, to rebuild. But anything you give is better than nothing.
And, I’m not trying to be funny here–I’m dead serious– but considering what we black women spend on our hair, and what black men spend on their cars, and what we all spend to eat out on the weekends, and downloading music from ITunes, shame on you–I mean, SHAME ON YOU, if you can’t give at least $5.
An easy way is to give money to the Red Cross. You can simply text “Haiti” to 90999. Your phone company will charge you $10. I did it and it’s very easy. They send you a confirmation text back.
Click the link below to hear a song (via ITunes; I just couldn’t figure it out today, sorry y’all) that will get you motivated about your responsibilities if you are member of the black community. It’s by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, with dear Teddy Pendergrass singing lead. He just passed–yet another reason for my sadness. (Thanks to one of my Facebook friends who posted this song on Facebook when she let us know about Teddy’s passing. I don’t want to violate her privacy, so I won’t give her name.)
Now that you’ve listened to the song, let’s refocus on what white folks should be doing to help Haiti.
The race thing rears its head at times like these. For example, I have noticed that many of my white Facebook friends have been pretty quiet about the Haiti thing when they post status updates.
So I can guess that of my white Facebook friends who haven’t commented on Haiti, more than a few feel a bit hesitant to talk when tragedy impacts black folks. They don’t want to seem presumptuous and intrusive on our collective black grief.
But if you’re a white American, now’s the time to say something. Because…well, I don’t know how else to say it: Do I really need to remind you about your responsibilities in the midst of this tragedy? I know y’all felt like electing a black president was going to cancel out hundreds of years of European-American atrocities committed by white folks.
It’s a start, but not really, baby. I’m not trying to be mean. I’m just being real.
So no, I really don’t want to read today or for the next few days on Facebook about how delicious the pumpkin bread is that you made (or something else to that effect). You know what? I really don’t give a tinker’s damn–to quote Melvin Tolson–about your baking skills.
An estimated forty thousand people have died in our back yard. Forty thousand.
If you can’t say something important in this difficult time, just enjoy your pumpkin bread in silence. Because it just looks rude and insensitive for you to be acting like something sad in Haiti hasn’t happened, and I know you don’t mean to be that rude and insensitive. I KNOW YOU DON’T. All y’all bakers feel horrified about what happened, too. I KNOW YOU DO.
And so, if you don’t know what to say, how about posting that? Just say, “I just don’t know what to say about the horrible earthquake in Haiti. I’m just speechless.” And that will get it. At least, it will let us know you are sensitive to our pain.
Again, I’m really not trying to be humorous or funny. I’m really not. My point is that when bad times hit us in our own hemisphere and those bad times involve black folk, it’s time for white folks to remember that the only way to put past bad history to rest is to create good history now. It’s just that simple. Now is not the time to say, “What you looking at me for? I wasn’t even alive back then.”
But guess what, many industries built upon slave trade were alive then, and still are. Like the insurance industry. So if you’re wondering why these insurance [insert plural expletive noun] are so shady now, just look back a couple hundred years for that answer. And guess where one of the first stops on the transatlantic slave route was? The Caribbean. And guess where Haiti is located?
Any light bulbs going off right about now? Lord Jesus, I hope so, because I just can’t be pithy and breezy today. Maybe another day, but not today.
If you’re white and reading this blog, I think you know your responsibilities already, so please just share that information with other white folks who aren’t as enlightened as you are. Share with all those bakers of pumpkin bread.
And please know that anything I say is not to beat you up as a white person, but said in love because you are my Sistren and Brethren, too. Because there are a lot of white volunteers in Haiti doing that hard work– while I am here in front of my computer screen sitting in comfort–and God bless each and every one of those white folks who are doing that good work. Bless them in the highest way. Y’all know I mean it.
Now, here are a few pertinent links.
We all know that President Bush did a phenomenally wretched job in handing the Hurricane Katrina efforts. He has so many cool points to make up with God, I don’t know if it’s possible for him to do so in three lifetimes. But I’m always willing to forgive somebody, even if I will never be a Republican and can’t understand why anyone else would want to be. It takes all kinds to make the world going spinning round and round and then eventually off its axis, I suppose. Well, President Obama has met with President Bush and President Clinton and has called on them to lead Haitian aid efforts. Here’s the story.
There’re been some issues with Wyclef Jean’s organization, Yéle Haiti, but I am not going to hate on that brother’s efforts until the final word is in. Because I believe his heart is in the right place. I gave a money to his foundation and I feel like whatever happens to the money I gave, I offered it with good intentions. However, if you want to check on any charity’s financial status and business dealings, here’s a link to the Better Business Bureau’s page on charities.
And here is a link to an article in the Washington Post, giving the names of a few other aid organizations besides the Red Cross and Yéle Haiti. And also, the article discusses issues to consider to when you want to contribute to Haitian aid organizations or to do something on your own.
And finally, look, even if you’re completely flat broke now, it don’t cost nothing to pray. And for those people who don’t believe in God, just send good thoughts. I sincerely believe that good energy (whatever its source) adds up, y’all.
However, as far as “me, myself, personally”–as we used to say back at Booker T. Washington High School when I was a student there–I believe and love a mighty God, regardless of the hurricanes, earthquakes, or Pat Robertsons S/he throws humanity’s way. I am unashamed to tell y’all that.
Now, I can’t understand Her/Him all the time. And I don’t agree with Her/His actions all the time, either. And sometimes, I get so mad at God I can’t see straight. But the love is always there.
So I hope I have translated this right (into Creole), when I say, to our Haitian Brethren and Sistren in need, suffering, and struggle:
“Nou sonje-w chak jou. Nou leve-w nan priye nou.”
We think of you everyday. We include you in our prayers.