Jan. 19th, 2010

purlewe: (Default)
I am going to repost things from other journals I read.
They say it far more eloquantly than me.

[livejournal.com profile] kathrynt startles me with a fact you should know.
One of the reasons -- one of the BIGGEST reasons -- why Haiti is so poor is that their wealth was stolen for them for 120 years. After the successful slave rebellion, France, Britain, and the United States slammed Haiti with a crippling trade embargo, plus the threat of an actual war, unless they repaid the French the worth of every slave "lost" to them in the rebellion. That's right; the Haitians bought their freedom with , and then were forced to buy it again with gold. The cost was 150 million francs, which is the rough equivalent of 21.7 billion dollars in 2010. The amount was later reduced to 90 million francs, but it took the Haitians until 1947 to pay off the debt, despite exporting every penny they made. The loss of 120 years of revenue, plus the continued crippling interest and brutal terms of the various international loans they've taken out to stay alive, are what keeps Haiti so poor. And while the IMF has offered Haiti an additional $100 million in loans in the aftermath of this devastating earthquake, it comes with those same conditions, which include the requirement to RAISE the price on utilities like electricity and prohibit a lot of infrastructure development.

And [livejournal.com profile] kellidunham writes this. I agree with her entirely.

What they apparently teach about covering Haiti in journalism school.
1. Don't bother to learn the name of the neighborhood you're reporting from. The generic term "Port au Prince slum" will work fine, even though "slum" has no precise meaning or purpose beyond othering the area.
2. Feel free to proclaim a specific area "devastated" by the earthquake without ever looking at any "before" pictures to see if that's actually true, otherwise folks might be reminded that we've been ignoring how bad things are in Haiti for a while now.
3. Always make sure to describe expressions of sorrow in their most extreme physical manifestations so as to continue with the othering mentioning in #1.
4. Photographers, always show white people calm and black people not calm.
5. The more the subject in a photograph is suffering, the closer the shot should be. If you encounter a person who is very close to and is actually screaming in pain, the camera lens should actually touch their face.
5. Describe all people who eat food procured in ways other than taking what is handed to them by white people as "looters." These same people should be described as "traveling the Port au Prince slums in lawless gangs" even if they are just a family out searching for drinking water.

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