Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Help/Aid to Haiti- Suggestions and Pitfalls

So- I totally have NOT been keeping up my New Years Resolution of blogging on a consistent basis... but I am working on it, I promise!! I have, however, been keeping up with the news. When you fancy yourself a "blogger" news becomes like second nature. It really is almost like having your morning coffee- which, if you know me, you know I cannot do without. I watch the news in the morning; I read the news online throughout the day; I watch the news at night... maybe I am in overload, but I like it!

My news overload has gone into overdrive lately. Every channel I watch has an opening story of the devastation that has taken over Haiti after the earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people. It is mesmerizing and it makes me sad. To see all the faces full of anguish and uncertainty. To hear of all the families that have lost husbands, wives, children. To see the huge outpouring of emotion and money from all over the world... nothing less than amazing. I will venture out and say that the world response has given me a new respect for humankind. It is nice to see that neighboring countries care. It is nice to think that we may all be a part of a world... not just our own little worlds (I never really leave my pretend world where everything is about me- and I invite all of you to enter the world where it is all about me...through this blog), but something giant and slightly all encompassing. Sometimes it is just nice to be able to put your own "problems" in perspective.

There has been a lot written about the pitfalls of American aid specifically, in the wake of this natural disaster. When you do something, people always want you to do more (or less), and no matter what there are always opinions about what you should be doing, why you are helping, what you did, how horrible you are, etc. One article in particular was written by Bill Quigley and posted on Democracy Now! His article is entitled "Ten Things the U.S. Can and Should Do For Haiti" and of course I take issue with a few of his points.... would it be any fun if I just agreed? :)

Most of his ten points make sense to me- treating people humanely and asking to be in the loop as to how much money is raised, where that money goes and the percentage that is actually going towards the cause... that makes sense. Below are the points that I will argue with (surprised? nah- didn't think so!)

** "One. Allow all Haitians in the US to work. The number one source of money for poor people in Haiti is the money sent from family and workers in the US back home. Haitians will continue to help themselves if given a chance. Haitians in the US will continue to help when the world community moves on to other problems." Um, no. Sorry Mr. Quigley. As an underemployed college graduate, I HAVE to disagree with you. Unemployment has skyrocketed in America over the last two and a half years. I have ex-classmates who are losing their homes, or moving in with their parents so they can make ends meet. I have been told (several times) that I am overqualified for jobs. States (including the one I live in) are on the brink of bankruptcy and having to come up with funds for thousands of newly unemployed workers. We, as a country, are not on track and one reason for that is we give jobs away. We routinely look the other way as jobs are outsourced and exported and I am not willing to advocate for thousands of non US citizens taking jobs off the market, when tons of tax payers are not getting a regular paycheck. So we will put this in the disagree pile.

**"Three. Give Haiti grants as help, not loans. Haiti does not need any more debt. Make sure that the relief given helps Haiti rebuild its public sector so the country can provide its own citizens with basic public services." Um, again... no. Guess who else does not need anymore debt? Ding, ding, ding- you are correct if you said the United States of America!!

**"Five. President Obama can enact Temporary Protected Status for Haitians with the stroke of a pen. Do it. The US has already done it for El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Sudan and Somalia." And he has done it in this case also. According to The Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Naplitano, 'Any Haitian in the US prior to the earthquake will be allowed to stay for 18 months to work. Any Haitians attempting travel to the US will be sent back to Haiti.'

**"Six. Respect Human Rights from Day One. The UN has enacted Guiding Principles for Internally Displaced People. Make them required reading for every official and non-governmental person and organization. Non governmental organizations like charities and international aid groups are extremely powerful in Haiti – they too must respect the human dignity and human rights of all people." Agree- but realize that the United States is not the only country that is helping out. This needs to be followed by everyone... even Haitians- specifically those in control.

**"Seven. Apologize to the Haitian people everywhere for Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh." I laughed when I read this. Out.Loud. If you regularly read this blog, you KNOW that I am not a fan of extremists- unless they are extreme fans of mine- and I do think the two men mentioned are ignorant morons, BUT here in the United States of America we have a lovely thing called Freedom of Speech. Even though I would like to choke Rush and Pat, they have a fan base and they have the right to say whatever they want- within the confines of the law. I am just hoping that the stupidity that came out of their mouths will let their "fans" see who they really are. But it may not be wise to attack very established American rights while American citizens are emptying their pockets to give money to Haiti. Plus, America as a whole should not apologize for Rush and Pat.... they should show some human emotions and do it themselves, prime time, Fox News, to be replayed over and over and over and over again...

You can check out the whole article here. Please do not read anything into this entry. I believe that we all should help Haiti- so don't start emailing me telling me I am a heartless bitch. I just think that the US cannot be the only country making sacrifices, especially since we are struggling. My thoughts and prayers go out to Haiti. I hope that recovery is swift, memories of this horrible time are short and their pride in Haiti is forever. God bless the Haitians, the relief workers, those sending financial help... and God Bless the United States of America. (See, I am sounding Presidential ALREADY- watch out world!) :)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

"Maybe I can convince time to slow up..."

I have been listening to a lot of music lately- and it has been reflected in my blog. Music has a special quality- it can reverse the bad day vibes. Bad day vibes were so overabundant today. Tomorrow, January 6, will be the seven month anniversary of the death of a friend, a brother of mine. Yesterday, January 4th would have been his 40th birthday. I attempted several times to post this blog on his actual birthday, but it was too emotional for this self proclaimed 'non emotional' person. I couldn't do it. Honestly, I am a little weepy while typing this. Sometimes it is actually harder to be that friend that everyone leans on. That means that you can't mourn the same as everyone else... things can't hit you the same. That is how feel about the death of my friend. While I was busy being strong for everyone else, I never really got to mourn a great guy who left way too soon.

It is funny, because I was not around him much, because I live in Chicago and he (and my bestie) lived in Columbus. But whenever we got together, it was like I lived there- like we had just seen each other the day before. It takes a special person to be in a relationship with a woman who has a friend like me. I can be really, I can be, have been and will continue to be to those who deserve it. Ask any of my close girlfriends, I am sure they have horror stories of me meeting their significant others. What can I say? Some people just don't make the cut, and those who didn't knew RIGHT away. I have been told that I have a very expressive face- like your date says something really dumb in front of me and I am UNABLE to not have my disappointment in his ridiculous stupidity show on my face. Yep, I am totally that friend. Sincerely, my girlfriends are my pride and joy; they are my sisters. I have very few and I am very protective, so their dates have to be the cream of the crop... same for me. My girlfriends tell me when my dates fall short. Depending on who I ask, the critique ranges from simply, "I just don't think he is the one for you" to some comments that my mother should not read on my blog! We are like that- we have no secrets- and we know each other better than our respective significant others ever could. That is the way it is supposed to be! :)

So, when Racy introduced me to Daryl when they started dating, I immediately attempted to figure out what was wrong with him. I looked for a long time and came up with nothing- very weird! I have to admit, I look after Racy a little more than the other girls. She is just so sweet; the kind of person that would give you the shirt off her back. I mean, I know that people say that about their friends all the time, but seriously, Racy would. I really think that God brought her to me to be the calming force in my (slightly) self centered world. She, unlike anyone besides my mother, can get me to understand that sometimes (SOMETIMES) it is not all about me. Not a lesson you want to hear from everyone!! But she says it as nice as possible. She has had her feelings hurt, by me, more times than both of us will admit. She has cried and probably wondered why she is friends with my evil ass, but I would go to the end of the Earth for that chick and I know she would do the same for me. After the train wreck that was her first marriage (still don't really talk to that one.... I think he may have nightmares about me [evil laugh]) I was NOT looking forward to letting anyone in our family circle for a while. But then I met Daryl and I knew that my friend would be ok. I think I loved him from the start. There was never any awkwardness; there was never those stupid 'pregnant pauses' where everyone in the room feels weird. He just had a way to make me feel like he had been around us forever. He broke the ice... by making fun of me. :) Not a course of action for just anyone, because I am hardly the one that take kindly to jokes about myself...

There was just an ease about him that was unexplainable. He knew exactly what to say in order to make everyone in the room feel comfortable. And you could tell because at his funeral, all different kinds of people were there to celebrate this life, this force field, this man that touched people with an ease that skilled politicians don't have. In one fell swoop, I knew that my friend would be ok because her knight in shining armor was... just like me! A little rough around the edges, but deep down, he was golden! And he did take care of my friend. I think he was put on this Earth for her. They did everything together and made love and family look easy. They made it look easy.

It is hard to be sad because Racy and Daryl were blessed with so much. Each other, a home, and three great kids. Although I didn't see him much, there has not been a day in the past seven months when I didn't think of Daryl. I wonder how my friend is going too make it without her other half; wonder how my god-kids will turn out without their daddy; wonder who is going to give my future husband (whoever he is) the "speech" about treating me like a Queen [ok, my dad is going to give it, OF COURSE, but generally there is a peer that gives it too, so that the husband knows he would be seriously hurt]. I wonder how I am going to make it without my brother. I don't even think that Racy knows how much I miss her husband; how much faith he gave me in my search for my other half; how much joy I derived from seeing them together and happy. Amidst all the marital turmoil that I see everyday, it was amazing to see a young couple that was making it together. He gave my sister security and for that I will always be grateful to him. I miss you Daryl, every day. Please continue to look after my friend and the kiddies... and if you have time, look after my nutty ass. Thank you for being a shining example of what a man SHOULD be. Thank you for making my sister happy. Love you, Big Bro... RIP Big D

"Time, be my friend... and let me start again" Stephanie Mills- Home

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Nina Simone- Feeling Good

And oh what an anthem for the new year... Feeling Good by Nina Simone.

Key Lyrics:
Freedom is mine/ And I know how I feel
It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life
For Me
And I'm feeling good

Am I Blue? Billie Holiday

I have heard several versions of this song, and I favor Ms. Holiday's by far. Simply amazing.

Vivian Green - Emotional Rollercoaster

Can't remember if I have ever posted this video... if not, I have been special because I rock out to this all the time. I have both albums and am waiting for her to go on tour... in fact, I will check now to see when she is headed to Chicago. Vivian has a great voice... and Love Story is an album that everyone can relate to.

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