Monday, September 29, 2008

Beyond THE FUTURE: International Medical Corps

American Express is currently running its annual Members Project through which Amex card members can vote for charitable causes in the running for significant funding. Voting for the top 25 projects ends at midnight tonight, when the top five will be announced. Winners are announced in October. Amex will fund projects based on how they place: $1.5 million for first place, $500,000 for second, $300,000 for third, $100,000 for fourth and fifth.

Current top projects are designed to help with community building, education, and health. One of the current top five is “Saving the Lives of Malnourished Children,” which would benefit Santa Monica-based International Medical Corps, a highly rated organization that fights global poverty:

“Through nutrition programs that provide relief while creating sustainable solutions, International Medical Corps brings nutrition-rich, ready-to-eat food to some of world’s most food-insecure environments, including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Chad, and Sudan. With a mission that focuses on training, International Medical Corps works to empower individuals and communities, providing education on how to treat malnutrition, identify warnings signs, and intervene before malnutrition worsens. Health care workers and parents are educated on proper diet and hygiene, and communities are equipped to grow their own food and reduce their vulnerability to rising prices.”

The person who recommended IMC for participation in the Amex Members Project, listed as Paige S. from New York, states:

“Giving starving children food is not enough—the food needs to contain the vitamins, micronutrients, and calories a developing child needs to survive. New ready-to-use food (RUF) provides this. It is individually packaged, is stable in hot climates, does not need to be mixed with water (no risk of contamination), and even tastes good. [Starving] children recover in about one month and RUF is cost-effective. With this treatment there is simply no reason for children to die of starvation anymore.

“A friend in Haiti recently reminded me that children there and in many other countries are either dying of malnutrition or given away by their parents because food and medical care are so scarce. As a parent in the U.S., I find this heartbreaking. The achievable solution to this crisis inspired me to submit this project.”

If you’re an AMEX card member, please vote for International Medical Corps by voting for the Saving the Lives of Malnourished Children project. I’ll follow up with results of the Amex Members Project next month.

Photo © IMC/Margaret Aguirre taken 2008 at IMC’s outpatient therapeutic feeding clinic in Ethiopia. The compounding effects of drought and rising food prices have made basic staples impossible to afford for many Ethiopians. Malnutrition is widespread.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Beyond FRUSTRATING: Racism Alive and Well in the U.S.

First thing this morning, I was greeted on-line by an AP article on an August 27-September 5 survey conducted by the Associated Press and Yahoo. The headline, “Poll: Racial views steer some white Dems away from Obama,” is sobering enough, but the article goes on to document many discouraging—but to some not at all surprising—facts:

· 40 percent of all white Americans hold at least a partly negative view toward blacks.

· Just seven in 10 Democrats support Obama.

· Given a choice of several positive and negative adjectives that might describe blacks:

--20 percent of all whites said the word “violent” strongly applied,

--22 percent agreed with “boastful,”

--29 percent “complaining,”

--13 percent “lazy” and

--11 percent “irresponsible.”

· When asked about positive adjectives, whites were more likely to stay on the fence than give a strongly positive assessment.

· More than a quarter (25%!) of white Democrats agree that “if blacks would only try harder, they could be just as well off as whites.”

· Among white Independents, nearly four in 10 (40%!) agree that blacks would be better off if they “try harder.”

A stunning graph is included with the article, but only in the “printable” version that readers have to click-through to view. I also found intriguing a Yahoo ad that was run at one time to the bottom left of this article; the ad portrayed a sad middle-aged black man and asked if the reader was depressed. How fitting.

The lead of this article wraps it all up in a wake-up call to Obama supporters who assume their candidate is a shoe-in: “Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House.”

Stanford political scientist Paul Sniderman, who helped analyze the “exhaustive” survey, had this to say: “There are a lot fewer bigots than there were 50 years ago, but that doesn’t mean there’s only a few bigots.”

I’ve met with readers of my novel (which explores subtle forms of contemporary prejudice) who insist we’re “better than this” or “black people are treated just the same as everyone else” or “you’re exaggerating.” Others insist they’re “colorblind” and wonder why we can’t simply “put this behind us.” Maybe this article will finally make more people see, as Marvin Gaye once sang so sweetly, “What’s Going On.”

Post-note: By 7:30 a.m. MST today, the article “Poll: Racial views steer some white Dems away from Obama” had already been bumped off the list of Top AP Stories.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Beyond FAREWELL: Never Forget