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We Can't Forget About the Little Boy In Harlem

mbeale's picture

An annoyance with the text that I neglected to bring up in class is the pure audacity of international humanitarianism. When there are still things being swept under the rug and out of our consciousness like the Trayvon Martin  case and this case ( of a 68 year old veteran being killed in his home largely on the basis of race, I feel it is blatantly cruel to an extremely  marginalized portion of the population within our own country who is in need of justice, much often the same sort of justice aid groups like Half The Sky go peddling and pandering support for all around the world. James Baldwin, a civil rights activist mostly active in the 60s, expressed a similar concern in critique of sprouting aid initiatives like the Peace Corps, "We can't forget about the little boy in Harlem." Instead of solely being conflicted on whether or not to poke one's head into another culture's and country's problems, perhaps it is time we take time to assess the mirroring issues on our own turf.


michelle.lee's picture

I feel the same as aybala50.

I feel the same as aybala50.  Is it not possible to do the same?  I also think that this sentiment can be flipped around.  If a nation focuses too much on themselves they are seen as selfish and not caring for others.  But if they are concerned with the problems of other nations, they are seen as neglecting its own own issues.  I don't think if a nation is focusing on international humanitarianism that a nation is ignoring their own nation-wide problems.  It is also the responsibility of countries to help aid other countries in terms of international issues.  As epeck put it "we do not have to be perfect in order to provide valuable help, and perhaps our helping of others will make us realize what we need to work on ourselves."  

meowwalex's picture

I just feel that there is so

I just feel that there is so much work to do within our own cities -- and clearly so much work outside of our country that there is no way to have organizations that are trying to do everything at once. I think that organizations like Half the Sky aren't necessarily forgetting about the issues at home, but are focusing on an issue they think needs more attention. And, there are definitely organizations within our own cities working to decrease poverty and violence. . .I guess it is also important to note than in a lot of the countries Kristoff explored, their own cities and government don't do much to recognize these problems. I wish there was a way to make the government step in and realize what is going on. Or do they know and just ignore it?

aybala50's picture

does it have to be one or the other

Is it possible that we can do both? From a governmental perspective, there are programs that are both domestic and international. Looking at this question on a more individual level of "what can I do", isn't it possible for everyone to do what they can. Maybe some people are able to reach out to another who is close by, while others have the means to reach out further? 

epeck's picture

I'm not sure that I buy this.

I'm not sure that I buy this.  On one hand, I agree that we, as a nation, have a lot of work to do before we could by any means be "perfect."  On the other hand, compared to some other places we're doing pretty well.  I guess for me it comes down to the question of "can one person help another if they need help themselves?"  I think the answer to this is absolutely yes, we do not have to be perfect in order to provide valuable help, and perhaps our helping of other people will make us realize what we need to work on ourselves.  If we waited until our country had no problems before helping others, we would never help and if that were the case in the past, the course of history could be different (I think for the worse, although I'm sure in some situations it would be for the better).  Internationally, I feel like America is sometimes seen as not helping enough and being greedy in that sense, but then when America or an American does help sometimes it's portrayed as a "white savior" situation...I'm not sure where the happy medium is.

FrigginSushi's picture


I've always thought this same thing when it comes to topics such as goiong into another country and standing base to "protect" its people, but this view can also be put into the context of humanitarism, as you pointed out, as well. It really shocks me how America seems to be a country that thinks of itself as having no faults, or that it needs to be a country that uses its own resources to help other countries when America is in no position to do so. We may be a world leading country, but that doesn't mean we're perfect. It doesn't mean that our health care is available to every citizen. It doesn't mean we don't have poverty in our own cities. It doesn't mean segregation and alienation doesn't exist.

On the other side, I support programs like Half the Sky because it gives a louder voice to injustices that are happening around the world. If not for organizations like this, America would truly live up to it's individualist ideals.With the target audience in mind being upper class people, it's somewhat admirable that Half The Sky is serving as a tool to get the word out to people who have money and can privately fund things that would help the situation.

I don't know. I'm conflicted.