Saturday, January 16, 2010

Looting? No, Survival. Calling it Looting is Racism.

Spouse was watching ABC News this morning where they reported a completely different set of numbers than those I heard on MSNBC last night, and a totally different slant on the story than that told by the NBC reporters on the ground.

Appalling to me, was that last night, I was told that many of the Haitians were scrambling through the wreckage, focusing on collapsed hotels and grocery stores, knowing that these were the most likely sources of food and water. This is a country that had been in desparate straights prior to the earthquake and as one reporter said, is now, "prostrate." The reporter talking about the survival measures being taken by these Haitians talked about the frustration he felt at seeing the mountains of supplies at the airport that had been there for two days, and the need of the people on the streets who were perfectly aware of what the planes landing were carrying. In the heat, water was essential. People were dying of minor wounds because of its lack. He said that people in Port-Au-Prince bought their food each day because of their poverty and the lack of facilities to keep food properly, so either the earthquake destroyed what supplies they had, or they had none to begin with.

On ABC News this morning, the reporter talked of looting. She stood before a city that was nothing more than a pile of rubble and talked of looting. Do you know what I think of when I think of looting? Images of the inner city of Los Angeles and African-Americans filmed from helicopters as they carried television sets out of storefronts with smashed windows. Images of New Orleans after Katrina when survivors (predominantly African-American) trying to survive after "Heck of a job, Brownie" did such a good job of getting them clean water and food, tried to find their own. Funny, we don't see a lot of images of whites cleaning out grocery stores.

What are these Haitians doing? Surviving. Not looting. This is one of the poorest nations on earth. It is the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. Unfortunately, this image above was shown on MSNBC and depicts young, black men fighting over food. Not all shows on the MSM are equal after all. Presenting this story as looting is racism. Presenting images of young, black men fighting, or marching in the streets carrying machetes as I saw earlier accomplishes what exactly? Raising fear of young black men. Young men who are simply trying to survive, doing what you or I or anyone would do if our world collapsed around us. It has been noted, repeatedly, how civil is the society of Haiti that 3 and 4 days after this disaster.

Check out Bag News Notes for a good discussion of images of the day.

Thanks for stopping by. Don't forget to make your donation to one of the organizations providing help to Haiti. They are many. Come back soon.


  1. Kyra, you are absolutely right. I am outraged by the comments these news people make. They don't have a clue.

    I continue to hear them discuss whether the Haitian government is in charge and what they are doing. The Haitian government is made up of people who were affected by this earthquake. They are digging for their family members, or trying to find water and food for their children or burying grandma. These are large extended families who barely subsist as it is.

    They are not looting. They are locating and distributing supplies to help their families and neighbors survive.

    Good post.

  2. Kyra,

    A good post and a needed distinction. You can send me your info directly. It won't be posted.


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