So sayeth Magatte Wade, who decides to use the pages of CiF to heap scorn on those who do claim to do good works. Not because the money gets diverted and subverted, but because she loathes the attitude with which it’s given by ‘those from privilege’:
Last Saturday I spoke at the Harvard Women in Business Conference, an annual event that I love.
And not a hotbed of privilege?
Later, during a discussion on Going Global, a young woman asked, “For the Americans on the panel, how do you deal with being a person of privilege while working in global development?” My eyes lit up with fury as she directed her question specifically at the white Americans on the panel. I let them answer, then smiled and added with a wink: “I am an American, you know, and also a person of privilege.” She instantly understood what I meant.
Really? Or did she just think ‘Wow! I won’t ask this shrill harridan any more questions’…?
Her question assumed that those of us in developing nations are to be pitied. I know as a Senegalese that her attitude is precisely what disgusts us about many who work at NGOs.
So…you speak for all the Senegalese nation, do you? I thought, a minute ago, you were an American?
Every year we see thousands of “privileged” young Americans and Europeans eager to come “help the underprivileged”. Don’t they understand how contemptuous that is?
Well, no, they probably do it for all sorts of reasons, some selfless and some selfish, but I rather doubt any of them look at starving children and cataract-ridden elderly people and think ‘Nah, me helping them to get food or an eye operation is just treating them with contempt’…
Why, next this woman will claim that it’s racist to..
For many of those who “care” about Africans, we are objects through which they express their own “caring”. This “caring” is just as objectifying as old-fashioned racism.
Well, at least she didn’t bring up the slave tra..
Oh, for heaven’s sake!
If you approach me with a worldview in which you are privileged and I need your help, there is no possibility of an authentic relationship. You may as well see yourself as the master and me as the slave.
So, does she advocate that we stop all aid and all charity to Africa?
Oh, no, she thinks they should continue to get your money. But they should also get your respect as well, if you want to keep your job, that is:
I know that there are countless people in the NGO world that have done a great deal of good. But I would like to propose that NGOs either refuse to hire, or simply fire, anyone who has a condescending attitude towards the poor.
How on earth are they going to establish that?