Should African-Americans care more about Darfur?

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So, this was on Post Secret on Sunday. It was just one of those things that made me think for a little while. It made me ask questions like:

Should African-Americans be more vocal about this issue? Are African-Americans obligated to care about this issue more than “white” Americans? Isn’t this more of a humanitarian issue than an African issue? What keeps African-Americans from being more vocal about issues affecting African people? If I were black, would I consider this person’s opinion racist or offensive? Last time I checked, wasn’t Don Cheadle black? Does this person have a point? Isn’t it a tad bit ignorant to assume the “majority of black America” should care about this issue because they have a similar skin tone as the Sudanese? (I mean, it’s not like they’re all from the Sudan region of Africa.) Did the person who posted this care about similar cases of genocide – or “ethnic cleansing” – in Eastern European countries like Bosnia? Did it bother him that most white Americans didn’t either? Does putting a link on your blog, joining a “cause” on Facebook, wearing a t-shirt or attending a rally make you an activist?

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13 thoughts on “Should African-Americans care more about Darfur?

  1. And what does it say about one’s commitment to a cause if they’re actively keeping tabs to see what “types” of people are also supporting it?

    And your question about “what makes an activist?” is a good one. Young white people do tend to be drawn to popular, more visible humanitarian issues. College kids like to be swept up in a cause. But I’m sure there are many more out there who privately support causes through donation, prayer, service, and personal sacrifice. These people are effective activists, and I don’t imagine they skew toward any particular demographic.

  2. That’s actually something I’ve been thinking quite alot about lately. With the influx of things like Save Darfur, the One Campaign, etc., I see alot of folks “joining” causes (on Facebook in particular). But it leaves me wondering what it means exactly to “join a cause.”

    On the one hand, much can be said for raising awareness, signing petitions, etc. Those things aren’t without merit. Heck, that’s like 70% of what I do on this blog with “causes” of varying degrees of importance.

    But there seems to be something rather inactive about modern activism, especially on the web. If joining a cause doesn’t have more than a negligible impact on your time, wallet, other resources and passion – are we really doing anything?

  3. Our priorities are off kilter. Or rather, our values are. We prize the appearance of charity and compassion, whether or not any real impact is made. We also exalt tolerance over most other virtues. Tolerance is a precious thing when it’s sincere and complete, but it’s only one aspect of personal growth and is just a building block of other, greater virtues. The end-all of morality in our society is to not judge others, but that’s just step one. Then comes encouraging others, serving others, and giving of one’s self on behalf of others.

    I’m feeling condemned by my own words. Time to quit while I’m ahead!

  4. At the same time, wouldn’t/shouldn’t black america also be on that inactive activism bus as well?

    It does make one wonder. I’ve never thought about it before. (Perhaps saying something about the color lines being blurred in my own eyes. Something I’m happy about).

  5. because the majority of ‘african americans’ are not african. they are americans. and sadly the majority of americans don’t care about africa.

  6. One of the things I’ve noticed, in my working with African-American students at Nyack College, is that many have been raised in these “biblical prosperity churches,” in which the gospel is presented in conjunction with a “God desires you to become financially and socially successful” emphasis. (Not all students have this background, but quite a high percentage do.) This wealth “gospel” tends to make its adherents more self-focused than the average Christian–and thus much less likely to care about such issues as Darfur.

    At the same time, some African-American students I work with are very much involved–but their activism tends to be more hands-on and community-oriented. Sometimes this approach takes these young people in directions most of us never encounter, because for them the crisis/problem is in their own backyard and is a very real, concrete thing. (For most of us, the issues which concern us the most remain at least somewhat in the abstract.) It is easy to “care” about an issue that leaves us alone at night when we go to bed–an issue that we can write a check or hold a sign as we march down a street and then go home thinking how virtuous and world-changing we are.

    It can be difficult to want to fix the world we live in–and not know how or where or what to do. I have had that kind of conversation many times with students, and I usually suggest they become involved more in a hands-on situation so they can become more aware of the full scope of a problem and do something constructive about it. . . .

  7. a co-worker of mine is from liberia, and he’s brought up to me how the war that happened there is unknown to us, even though liberia was founded by the U.S., and how the conflicts in neighboring sierra leone and ivory coast suffer from the same ignorance. i believe that darfur is the most well known of the current crisis’ in africa b/c it’s the worst. bashir is the hitler of our time. my knowledge of the sudan began at nyack, when a chapel speaker talked about it. so, i’ve been following it since 2000, and at that time the conflict was in southern sudan, not darfur. but i don’t care if it’s a cause du jour or whatever, as long as people display some sort of care or interest instead of friggin’ apathy i’m glad. maybe people aren’t out in the streets like it’s 1968 (and they only were b/c of the draft – we’d see the same thing today if there was one, which is why there isn’t), but more & more young people getting into causes and activism is far better than being obsessed with celeb gossip and materialistic bullshit. the one thing i’d like to see is more of a concern about the continent in general, b/c situations are similar in uganda and various other nations as they are in darfur. and we need to realize and accept our role in allowing these things to happen via colonization, debt and self-advantageous policies. the stories my co-worker has about that last one are simply mind-numbing. and it explains why things are the way they are.

  8. here’s my opinion for those that want it.
    thousands upon thousands of kurds were killed in iraq. nobody cared. china kills christians and whistle blowers all the time, and not much is done about that. in fact, the US continues to give them money by the billions, not to mention the amount of material goods that come from there that we all have sitting around us at this moment. toys, furniture, clothing, billions of dollars worth.
    russia is still silencing opposition members, yet we stay in “friendly” relations with them.
    cuba, venezuela, iran. these leaders are capable of and probably are killing off or imprisoning opposition members.
    so, of all the “injustices” in the world, how is a christian to respond? the popular response seems to be to complain about the government not doing anything about it. but what do we expect the government to do about it? sanctions? monetary bribing? coups? i mean seriously, the US government has tried all of those things and it never works, or it never lasts. the injustices either continue or they come back.
    what these leaders and countries need is Christ’s love in their hearts. and that is something we can do, either by going ourselves or supporting those that do.
    for me, complaining about my government’s ignorance or lack of action seems sort of useless.
    here’s a way to extend the thread: why are there not more african-american “missionaries”?

  9. Provocative picture. But yeah, I think it is a humanitarian issue when it comes down to it.

    Jim, I am sort of coming to a point with politics and especially foreign policy that I am making an intention to firstly and foremost look to Jesus’ bride acting in her true beauty for hope before our govt. Not to put it too severely. I’m feeling the same thing about pro-life issues… maybe especially. I sort of wish pro-life protesters would first consider adopting a baby that would otherwise be aborted before calling a woman a murderer that is walking into a clinic–at least in my town. But any way, that is sort of getting way off the thread.

  10. to further my previous long-winded comment, i don’t think apathy about the world at large on the part of americans is limited to black americans. apathy is the state of mind the majority of our entire society is poisoned by. if we’re going to look at it based on ethnic backgrounds, i’d say the most involved group are jewish americans, i’ve seen many save darfur banners at synagogues, but never seen one outside of a church. or a mosque…though, i’ve never seen a mosque in rhode island 🙂 perhaps the average black person in america is (just like the average american period) overwhelmed by just trying to get by here, therefore something that is so far away that the average person hears so little about just doesn’t seem relevant to their daily struggles. and those who don’t experience those struggles just don’t care, often. this is what i’ve observed in my personal life. the haves don’t care about those in need and the have not’s are just trying to survive. darfur probably seems as irrelevant to the average inner-city resident as it does to the redneck in the trailer park back home in maine. the african co-worker i previously mentioned has also stated that most black people he’s met in the states, from RI to chicago to houston, know nothing about africa – but that’s the situation with most americans in general, regardless of race or ethnicity. he only finds that worth talking about b/c of the term, that he finds silly, of “african american”. so, there’s my take part 2, and the thoughts of someone who’s actually african, part 2 🙂

  11. I am African American (both my husband and my parents are from the Caribbean) and many of us DO care about Africa very much, because we sympathize with the struggle of black people from everywhere. Most of us are struggling ourselves, however, and don’t make the time to participate in international struggles. My husband and I don’t have any children and didn’t want any, but we talk about it a lot when we see those babies in Dafur. that’s how I found this site.

  12. Thank you for your perspective!

    You were saying that more African-Americans don’t participate in international struggles because they are struggling themselves.

    Can you help me understand what you’re saying exactly? Are you talking about the day by day struggle to make ends meet, or are you talking about being activists for issues affecting blacks in America?

    I was a little unclear…

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