i'm currently reading a book thats been in my possession for some time now that i just haven't looked into until recently. it's called The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow by Richard Wormser. a VERY informative book about the period right after emancipation that i think goes up to around the 30's (but i'm only partially done with the book). interestingly enough, this book has me thinking (among many other things) about the idea of public assistance and capitalism overall. i just finished reading an article (linked from Rebecca Walker's blog/website) about "The Anti-Bono", Dambisa Moyo who wants all foreign aid to African countries to cease within five years.
from what i gather, Moyo believes that the majority of foreign aid given to African countries is misused by the governing bodies of the specific countries receiving it. she believes that the focus needs to be on rebuilding the country from within through a better economic system as opposed to each country getting as much money as the world can donate.
if you think about it, what she's saying makes sense. throwing money at an issue almost never solves a problem unless the person getting the money knows what to do with it. and when the money is given to people who use it to encourage tourism as opposed to helping establish, say, public schooling (as in the case of Ghana), then it is no wonder many countries have been dwindling for decades. although i oppose capitalism and the capitalistic mindset at this present time in this country (emphasis on "at this present time in this country". i am not a socialist, a communist, a capitalist, or any other oversimplified label. i think different countries at different periods of time in their development can use elements of one system to aid in their progression. they're subjective, i think), i do think it can/should be used in some cases to encourage self responsibility, if not trust in one's ability for success.
i mentioned the book because the article brought to mind the same thing as i'm reading it. reading about the new towns that were established after emancipation, their voracious craving for knowledge and a formal education, and the level of community that was established so that all blacks could succeed make me seriously question the need for welfare.
for example, Nicodemus was a town in Kansas established by blacks after emancipation. they basically built this town from the ground up, having their own shops, banks, and trade posts. they marketed it as a "black town" and encouraged blacks fleeing the south in the Great Migration to make this town their home. and aside from Booker T. Washingtson establishing a school, many blacks established their own schools and businesses. considering that whites typically were frightened by blacks educating themselves, blacks funded the schools themselves, which was not an easy feat coming from one of the most disenfranchised groups in the country. one person would donate some food, another would donate a pair of shoes, wood and labor, and sometimes just a few cents. one school teacher accepted chickens and eggs as tuition. and the thirst for knowledge was even greater. theres a number of excerpts in the book about mothers taking their children from their work as sharecroppers to go to school and children walking miles in blistering heat or snow alone just to attend school.
and all this was coming from people who were basically still enslaved, although it was labeled "sharecropping". these towns and schools were coming from NOTHING. yet they were thriving because they knew that they had to do for themselves.
going back to the interview with Dambisa Moyo, i think this is what she wants to accomplish. i wonder if, when these celebrities and governmental officials are rallying around throwing money at some issue in, say, Rwanda, whether the idea of helpless blacks is not guiding their propensity for monetary "support". and in the United States, i wonder if we have lost the yearning for self-reliance as well as the idea that we as a community can support each other. blacks in the United States are overwhelmingly members of the political party (Democrat) that supports welfare and governmental assistance, most of which support governmental assistance.
ultimately, i wonder if many a times, we do not possess enough trust in the willpower, abilities, strength and tenacity of our people. knowing what blacks accomplished after having been enslaved for centuries within a few years after emancipation while being sharecroppers, it's a wonder how anyone can think we NEED governmental assistance. the same goes for African countries-what do these people who advocate foreign aid think Africans were doing prior to aid from them? wallowing in self-pity, wondering when whites would come and solve all their problems??
my brother showed me this link the other day of what looks like the entire population of black people in Atlanta standing in line for an application for public housing. some people do need this, but all of them? absolutely not. where did this NEED for governmental assistance come from? if these people knew of the history of what we accomplished at one point in time and what we can accomplish, who knows how many people would be asking (if not, demanding) a hand out. whether this insistance on welfare comes from a twisted idea of reparations or a lack of trust in the abilities of our people is up for debate.
that being said, i do (currently, in this country) support a reformed form of welfare. i do not know enough about the current economic standings of most countries in Africa, so i cannot say that she is correct in promoting a free trade (capitalistic) system of government. but i do think that advocating against welfare (whether in the form of foreign aid in African countries or food stamps in the United States) is worth a discussion.
criticize. comment. think.
the photo on the right is the town of Nicodemus.