Church and Society / Politics / The Color Line

Sponsoring a Dream

We all have seen those commercials with children looking lost, with flies lighting on them, distended stomachs from severe starvation; playing or standing on piles of rubbish and garbage and outright sewage.  Most of us turn away, including yours truly, because it’s really hard and painful to watch as most of us sit in the comfort of a house or home.  Hell, all of us watching have a television of some sorts meaning that we’re more privileged than the kids that we see on the television.

Well, at Creation this past week, there was this group called Compassion, to which this is a hyperlink, was there and they were trying to get 2,000 people to sponsor a kid.  It was plugged at each and every intermission to “go over to the Compassion tent” and pick up a packet of info for a child.  They would also show videos of some of the artists performing over in the Honduras and Dominican Republic.

It was during the first video, in the Dominican Republic that I finally put two and two together as to why I had this knot in my stomach and felt my blood pressure and stress level rising.  And yes, of course it had to do with my skin color.

The number one reason I began to pay attention was because these people looked like me.  I mean, hell, the grandmother of one of these little boys they showed so much invoked the pictures I’ve seen of my own grandmother and great-grandmother, and pictures of older uppity Negresses who decided to march for voting rights that it was quite jarring to the senses.  If anything, this was the gut-wrenching feeling that this video was supposed to induce, so why wasn’t I running over to the Compassion tent to sponsor little Danny.

Well, I didn’t have any money.

Moreover, I realized that sponsoring a child does nothing more than allow for the governmental systems to continue keeping the desolately poor, desolately poor.  I mean for crying out loud, there is NOT a food shortage in this world.  The United States, Europe and parts of China produce MORE than enough food to keep the world full, contrary to popular opinion.  Even if the U.S. decided to continue outsourcing jobs and allow for the manufacturing sector to crumble and melt in our collective fingers and act as if nothing is wrong, we certainly could put these hard working men and women back to work and start grinding our food output and manufacturing output to help out these countries.

But, here’s the caveat and it’s two fold.

Problem number one, Central and South America and the majority of the Caribbean don’t like the United States.  We are essentially Big Brother on patrol.  We control what must be exported and imported into these islands.  I’ve heard stories from native Jamaicans that they are forced to buy products that come from their own island, shipped to the U.S. and then buy them back.  WTF!?!  Not to mention the whole Aristide situation in Haiti where the United States government is accused of forcibly removed a democratically elected president for unreported reasons, but there are those of us who can probably speculate.

I mean, this has been Latin American policy since 1900 when Teddy Roosevelt decided to “speak softly and carry a big stick” as he tried to muscle his way into getting the Panama Canal built–which clearly he did.  It also provided the U.S. with the congressional ability to involve themselves in Latin and Caribbean affairs.  It would be mistaken to think that the U.S. consulted with the governments of these countries before Roosevelt manhandled his way to get such a corollary to the Monroe Doctrine.  Contrary to what the history books say, and even Wikipedia, I firmly believe that the Monroe Doctrine and definitely the Roosevelt Corollary gave the U.S. the power to colonize, while being PC about the whole colonization bit and not calling it “colonization.”

The other side of the coin is that sadly, these “banana republics” who produce only one crop, sugar cane being a major one, are controlled by despots, many of which followed in much the same pattern as their oppressors who had received governorships from the mother countries such as France, Great Britain, Spain and the Netherlands and had set up rule by certain families, that had no doubt been previously favored by the European governement prior to their independence.

And while I’m on Haiti, let the record show that Haitians are the ONLY people in WORLD HISTORY (yes, however many years that is, not unless you want to count the biblical story of the Israelites as a slave revolte) to have a sucessful slave revolt.  Now don’t you think that France and the racism that pervades U.S. thought would have a problem with that–France goes down in history as the country who got their ass kicked and served to them by a buncha uppity Negroes. 

And then to do so on the bicentennial year no less; after celebrating 200 years of being free, somehow the democratically elected president gets exiled for the second time.

Anywayz, back on topic…

This has produced wretched conditions for the millions of poor people living in these countries.  We may live from paycheck to paycheck, one two week period or month to the next, while these people are living day to day, not knowing the future holds.  Much like the favelas of Rio, many of these barrios and ghettos are run by local men and boys armed to prevent any outsiders from coming into their neighborhood.  They arm themselves perhaps because they see themselves as the last line of defense against a government either unwilling or unable because of U.S. foreign policies to provide them with the adequate basic needs.

So, as I listened Bob Lenz, who was one of my top three speakers at Creation begin his spiel for Compassion, my mind went completely social justice on me.  I would have rather heard him speak about what Compassion is doing, or any organization, that is actively going into these countries and challenging the governmental structures that allow for this suffering to continue.  As far as I’m concerned, giving money to “sponsor” a child is doing nothing more than “giving a man fish.”  Now my friend told me that Compassion teaches these people farming techniques and other life-sustaining skills, but when the government fails to keep the lake full of water, or fails to keep the lake stocked with adequate fish, while fishing with a wide net for themselves, hording the fish while others go hungry, then we have a much bigger problem.  I see sponsoring a child in places like here in the Western Hempishere or countries in Africa or Asia as merely mopping up the kitchen floor from a flood while not taking the time to go to the sink and stop the leak at its source.

And while all of this was going through my mind, I was saying to myself, what about the people here in our own country?  I mean hell, our urban centers are facing a severe increase in homelessness, and millions of our children are only getting fed at schools because of systemic problems with our own government, but one should be able to know where I stand on that issue given the tone of this article.

I think sponsoring a child also engenders a passiveness because it allows for someone to merely pay for the problem to disappear.

So what are your thoughts on sponsoring children overseas at the expense of acting as though our own problems here in the U.S. are naught?  Also what do you think is the answer for aiding the countries in our own yard (Latin and Central America and the Caribbean)?

Keep it uppity and keep it radically truthful, JLL

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2 thoughts on “Sponsoring a Dream

  1. I can understand you concerns. I have the same ones. But, I can’t shake the feeling that I still need to give money to those kids because it’s not their fault they are poor. It’s like food stamps and welfare over here, I guess.

  2. I just wanted to thank you very much for this informative article. I have already bookmarked your site, when I have more free time I am going to have to do some further browsing. Well back to my dreaming of Panama or back to the books – I wonder which one is going to win out. :)

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