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A Day Without Dignity - a rant on celebrity driven sexy imperialism

Juana La Loca


Y'all know the old axiom that starts "give a man a fish"..... The same could be said for shoes, clothing, disposable diapers, baby formula and a whole pile of other crap humanitarian development professionals refer to as SWEDOW (Stuff We Don't Want). So today is supposed to be "One Day Without Shoes" sponsored by the oh so progressive Tom's shoe brand, with a pile of dirty soled melanin challenged celebs leading the barefoot charge for all the poor chirrens of the world who ain't got shoes. Because it's so much sexier to show manicured toes than it is to finance development teams (of real people who know how to make stuff) to go wherever is shoe-deprived to assist with planning and building a community run/administered shoe factory, training shoemakers, and sourcing local raw and semi-finished materials needed to make said shoes.

No, these limelight seeking twits prefer to send containers of shoes that do NOTHING to support and grow local economies. Shoes that damage local shoe makers and repairers businesses. Shoes that strip the dignity of work from people.

But someone says "The poor people can't afford shoes for their chirrens"...

to which I say "derp...you moron...mom and dad could afford a pair of shoes for junior iffen they were employed at a shoe factory."

and then someone says "butttt...not every mom and dad could get a job at the factory".

And then I sez "herp derp.... mom and dad will have money to buy food at the local market if they have a job at the shoe factory so that the lady who runs the shop will have money to buy the shoes for her kid. And the man with the cattle will sell the hides to the local tannery and both the herdsmen and tanners will have money to buy shoes and go to the market and maybe they will need more markets because there is more money to buy stuff with, so more folks open shops and the money goes around and around and it's called an economy you blithering Dudley Dogooder ijit"

But Dudley gives me a blank look of incomprehension and goes ahead and ships shoes anyways; thereby flooding the market with freebies and discouraging business start-ups etc.


It's the sexy side of imperialism. Along with the shoes they send their views: that other people are incapable of caring for themselves, their children, and their communities without Tom's Shoes. Did you hear about Madonna's Mali school fail? 3.8 Million spent and they did not even have a damned piece of land when the project collapsed. Do you know where the preprinted winners gear from the losing Superbowl team goes? World Vision ships it all to the "third world" as "charity" - ignoring the fact that many developing countries have their own textile industries and cotton farms etc..... that could probably use a donation of upgraded machinery/training + generators or agriculture specialists?

Imperialism gives with a spot-lit open hand that can snap shut at any given political or personal moment.

Development teaches skills and promotes community self determination and then without a press-release or star studded concert, just lets go any hold they had on the project and goes on to the next task on the never-ending list.

A Day Without Dignity is the brainchild of Saundra over at Good Intentions Are Not Enough lots of links at my first link to others blogging about this issue. Some really good reads. And if you've arrived here via the link in Saundra's blog, check out CN. It's a pretty good place to engage in faux nation building, political slap-fights, and generalized explosions as anonymously as you wish.... a retreat from the hard work of aid and development and all that. Also a place to make friendships and have some escapist fun.


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Kiva, that is all.

Agreed! Excellent example how smaller scale development assistance should be done. Their Business Model is a thing of "hands off" beauty.

I'm just pissed off that I'm on an unemployment budget - but once some employer recognizes my brilliance and hires me, I know where the "first paycheck celebration donation" is going

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I've done Kiva lending before, definitely when I get some steady income, I will start lending. 25 bucks every other month and you can reloan it. After a few years, you'll have hundreds of dollars going through the system. Feels like you're helping to build lives, not just sustain them.

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Agreed on the economic aspect.

I'm still wearing socks, though, and I encourage everyone to do the same. It's still cold in some parts of the country. ^_^

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Oh brother, dont get me started on 'well meaning, kind, celebs' and other charity that does more harm than good in the long run.

Do feel free to rant. I was reading transcripts of a press conference on Sudan given by that most brilliant of East African scholars and wow....without the face, George Clooney is just another self-absorbed dunce with limited extemporaneous public speaking skills.

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You lost me at "chirrens" and then again at "herp derp" because it's quite impossible to take seriously anyone who talks like that.

Sorry about that Delta, it was just a little dramatization.

To put it plainly, Toms Shoes act of sending shoes to children in disadvantaged third world nations is a poor aid model and benefits neither the children nor the communities; and indeed can do a good deal of harm to the location's economy. Toms would better serve these communities by lending their guidance to assist the communities to build their own shoe factories, using locally sourced raw and semi-finished goods. And then letting go of factory management. An excellent example of this may be found in the business practices of Oliberté' Footwear which may be found by following this link.

The reason the Tom's model is so flawed is that it neither benefits nor helps develop local economies. If Tom's wished to give away shoes they would maximize their donation and also infuse cash into the local economies by sourcing shoes in-country. There are no "third world" countries that do not have shoe makers or manufactories. This sort of middle-ground would not benefit as much as community owned/run shoe factories that can being the communities into the world of commerce rather than charity. But it would be a start.

Give-aways create and exacerbate aid-dependency and isolation from the means to self-sufficiency. It creates charity clients. It's Imperialism.

And no matter how the "charity" is sexed up with celebrity faces, it remains Imperialism.

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Your development model begins with a fatal flaw.

Y'all know the old axiom that starts "give a man a fish"..... The same could be said for shoes, clothing, disposable diapers

Give a man a disposable diaper and he'll !@#$ his pants? Who the hell will want to teach him to use the toilet after that?


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Your development model begins with a fatal flaw.

Give a man a disposable diaper and he'll !@#$ his pants? Who the hell will want to teach him to use the toilet after that?


thanks for the laugh.

I'm obviously easily amused.... ...or more likely it's the meds.

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Never criticize a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes. That way you're a mile away from him and also have his shoes.


I once complained about not having any shoes until I met a man who had no feet.

So I said, "Got any shoes you're not using?"

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