By A Very Angry White Girl
We’ve all seen it. Many of us have done it. It is pulling the Africa card.
The Africa card is drawn when Person A has an inexplicable desire to put Person B down for being privileged. No one can exactly identify Person A’s motives—maybe they are tired, having a rough day, trying to impress everyone with their worldy sympathies, or just trying to pick a fight. We don’t really know. What we do know is it usually goes like this: Person B makes a complaint, for example: “I’m thirsty,” “my feet hurt,” or “I don’t care for filet mignon.” Person A promptly swoops in, valiantly exclaiming something along the lines of “People in Africa don’t have clean water!” “People in Africa’s feet hurt more!”or “People in Africa would cherish that filet mignon!”
Stop. Stop right there.
First things first, stop generalizing the entire 11.7 million square miles of Africa as a completely destitute culture, because, surprise! They aren’t.
Truly, you say?
Truly, I say.
Not all of Africa lives in makeshift homes and has to travel miles barefoot every day to the nearest source of disease-filled water. Is this a reality for some African countries? Yes, absolutely. But take a look at places like South Africa. Egypt. Nigeria. Libya. Algeria. These are countries who have emerged/are emerging onto the economic scene, and quickly. Again, THE ENTIRE POPULATION OF THE CONTINENT AFRICA IS NOT IN POVERTY. Just like every country, there are areas of wealth, and there are areas of poverty, and generalizing the entire continent like that does the people living there a great disservice. The reality of homelessness and disease exists for people in all countries: yes, even in America, this place you call home, where you curl up in your nice warm bed and don’t bat an eye at your running water.
Now, to this, Person A might claim to be trying to make Person B feel guilty for not appreciating what they have. Yet, what is pulling the Africa card really going to do for Person B? The answer is probably irritate them and have no effect on their motivation to aid foreign third-world countries.
Making people feel bad about not being born into poverty will not solve the problem of poverty.
No one chooses to be born wealthy. No one chooses to be born into the slums. A millionaire can have an enormous mansion, swimming pool, and chocolate cake decorated in edible gold yet still be depressed. Someone homeless in Africa, struggling to survive in their harsh environment can still find a reason to smile. It’s about perspective. All feelings, regardless of social class, are valid. Making someone feel guilty of having wealth changes nothing—should they give all of their belongings away and live on the streets to help Person A sleep better at night? Is that going to feed starving African infants and protect the homeless from malaria?
I’ll let you figure that one out.
What needs to be done about poverty in Africa—poverty everywhere—is not to guilt-trip people on social media for being a certain class, race, culture, etc. What needs to be done is educating. When people are educated, they begin to care. When people care, they begin to help.
And the world begins to heal.
If you are privileged and having a bad day, if you feel like crying: do it. If you feel like screaming about how unfair life is: go ahead. But when life does get hard, remember to look around you and be grateful. Be grateful for everything you have, whether it is materialistic or family, friends, love. Use your privilege to help others, whether through charity or service work, even just helping a friend, to truly better the world. Whatever you do, stop pulling the Africa card. Stop talking about poverty.
Instead, get up and do something about it.1 notes / 3 months ago / reblog