Saying No to Poverty Porn
Contributor

 

Photo-Phil Moore

Someone posted on Facebook a photograph of a Sudanese child pulling his dead mother.  The poster has good intentions in that she wanted to encourage people to contribute money to aleviate the crisis in the Sudan.

But for me, this type of photograph is classic poverty porn and is so old school and ineffective and basically serves to massage the ego of potential donors in the West.  Give me something that tells me of the complex issues that have created this crisis and how I can contribute to help the Sudanese people create THEIR own sustainable, long-term solutions. 

I have been writing about the crisis in the Sudan for years.  Don’t get me wrong, the situation continues to be dire and a major, concerted response is needed.  Perhaps for selfish reasons, I want these appeals to be presented in way that shows our shared connections, that connect the dots of corporate greed, institutions like the World Bank and IMF to so-called failed states, etc.

The above photo is not one that elicits sympathy; it’s one that invites empathy and from this point of departure we can go a long way.

Photo-Phil Moore

 

Round and Whole

By Octavia McBride-Ahebee, 1992

 

Empty mango trees, drained of leaves and living color

hold only vultures,

the lone and last witness that I once was,

positioned in a congenital though merciful conspiracy

they look down on me

I stare up at their glorious, black, feathered cloaks

covering the skeletal, witless arms of this giant, sun-beaten,

fruit flower

these buzzards, angry at their own nature,

are compelled to banquet on my flesh

their hearts, they convey through their florid heads, bobbing

will not eat my soul as an appetizer

while my body rots on the side of the road

alone, except for the sole companionship

of someone’s silent , crawling child,

dragging its limbs, disrupting dead memories

of thin, twisted strips of black licorice

eaten in times of plenty

a child, drained too, like the mango trees

but forever green

pulling with its neglected mouth at my left breast

spotted like a leopard, deflated like bagpipes

without the breath of a musician to give them context

Empty

 

Full was once my life

but fullness-round and whole

light with ordinary innocence

like soap bubbles blown

from a child’s unworldly mouth

defies, distorts, disturbs your image of me

the African

I am a Dinka girl, complex

piled high like an anthill

I am a Dinka girl from Juba

black like the tar you pour on roads

to ease your travels and I am just as long

but I cover myself, on joyous journeys,

in cattle dung and red ocher for reasons you refuse to hold

I work hard, dance easily and suck the juice from mangoes

with a passion you will never touch

I make love in the open fields

when the sun has knocked down its glass walls

and only the cows and the moon’s light are watching

and God tickling me with her approval

 

Full

 

I am one piece of a gaunt, faceless mass

to you

-a bloated stomach

emptied by inept, home-grown madmen-

We are stranded starfish spewed from the ocean

once part of something round and whole

now left on the road to rot

but, no, I am not alone on the shoulder of this road

here is a dying child and a horde of vultures

who will take me from you

and I will float in a generous atmosphere

wear an amulet around my neck to keep you out

eat stars when I am hungry

and still make love by the moon’s light.

§ §

Let's be friends

The Women Behind She Writes

519 articles
12 articles

Featured Members (7)

123 articles
392 articles
54 articles
60 articles

Featured Groups (7)

Trending Articles

Comments
No comments yet