I am sick of hearing of campaigns collecting donations for the “global south being hit hard by the pandemic”. Sorry, I really am.
I am in North America. I live in Mexico. Nobody ever realised this was North America, right? But no, if I could tell my history teacher one thing it would be to get these definitions right, because these determine what people are going to think for THE REST OF THEIR LIVES.
I am sick of having Mexico being depicted as utterly poor, utterly criminal, utterly “third-world-global-south.” You know why? Because it leaves out a whole lot of people.
We’d choose to have health care for everyone, if it was possible. We’d choose to have insurances and funds and getting money from the government when everything is shut down, but we don’t. We being, middle class people.
But no, the narrative prefers to focus on the cliché of the poor that need the support of white people that save them from their destiny – often doing more harm than good.
We, the middle class, would love to tell our parents to stay at home. We’d love to stay at home always and with no exception, also. But we can’t. Because some parents worked their entire lives, yet their pension doesn’t pay enough to buy food and pay rent, to cover costs and pay bills. We, kids of parents, sit at home shaking of fear that our parents might catch the virus, because that wouldn’t mean sending them to hospital – that might mean losing them. The health system is not prepared.
If you feel better having made a donation from your salary still flowing in to some organization you don’t even know of, but it says it donates to “the third world” and “helps the poor” – then I have something for you that will make a bigger difference.
Stop where you are right now, look around you, and check your privilege. You got health insurance? You’re going to be treated and taken care of without extra costs when you get sick? You got a salary? You can pay food? Wifi? You can stay at home and work from home? Good. Here it is: your privilege.
Look at all the poor people in your own country. Look at the kids without meals, look at the teenagers that would love to work on their skills and talents just like every other kid, but don’t have the means to. Look at the students that struggle because their parents cannot afford their rent, and they for sure cannot cover their own costs. Experience abroad? Unaccessible. Maybe you find a support scheme in your own country?
Read books and educate yourself. Stop thinking racism is something you can afford to look past by – if you can, then you clearly are in the group of the privileged few who won’t feel racism. That doesn’t take you off the hook of responsibility to engage with it and use your privilege to open the door for others. Thanks. For starters I recommend: Why I no longer talk to white people about race
Think about your habits. More than your donation to some organzation you don’t know of, we need you to think about your habits. You need really need that avocado on your toast? You really need the 358th shirt from a fast fashion brand? You really can afford to fly to the Maldives twice a year? You really need to sign up for the volunteering program behaving like a tourist in a foreign country you don’t know the culture of? The answer in all cases, in case you wondered, is no.
Read. Listen to podcasts. Change your habits. Educate yourself. Watch TEDx talks – for free – listen attentively to people that don’t look like you, have a name you cannot pronounce, and come from another cultural background. Take them serious. Don’t belittle them. Don’t judge someone for their accent, it does not mean they are stupid, or don’t have a valid point – it just means they speak several languages.
Be open to criticism. Be open to feel uncomfortable. Think twice to whom you donate. You might as well donate your money to your local coffee or book shop that is in deep trouble due to the pandemic now. It really doesn’t matter, as long as you thought about it twice, and refrain from supporting clichés and stereotypes.
Trust me. That really will make a bigger difference. Thank you for your attention.