“Imagine that I’m a caveman,” writer and former basketball player Paul Shirley urges his readers in a recent post on the devastation in Haiti over at FlipCollective. As you continue reading, he makes it very easy:
While the earthquake was, obviously, unavoidable, the way in which many of the people of Haiti lived was not. Regrettably, some Haitians would have died regardless of the conditions in that country. But the fact that so many people lived in such abject poverty exacerbated the extent of the crisis. How could humans do this to themselves?
Only someone with a total lack of education about global economics, colonial history, and public health could possibly ask such an inane question, leading me to believe that, indeed, Paul Shirley somehow was transported from the beginning of time, with a primordial brain and an underdeveloped heart.
Read more at your own risk, but suffice it to say that this is one of the most offensive pieces of writing I’ve come across in a very long time. Is it important to search for Haitian-created solutions for future natural disasters? Yes. Is it critical that the money being donated be accounted for and used efficiently and equitably? Yes. But translating those legitimate concerns into a demonization of the Haitian people, completely ignoring the legacy of racism and exploitation that has contributed to so much of the poverty there, is unconscionable.
Feel free to send Paul an email regarding your reactions to his piece: email@example.com
Check out community post Dear Paul Shirley.
Thanks to Megan Osberger for the heads up.