Saturday, March 6, 2010

Missionaries and philanthro-pimps the and racist, classist herstory of the orphan

Following are excerpts of a MUST READ no-holds-barred view of "on an overall Western-held belief that people in poverty are inherently pathological and broken and therefore can’t care for their own children" by Tiny – or Lisa Gray-Garcia – who describes herself as “poverty scholar, daughter of Dee and welfareQUEEN,” is the consummate organizer and co-founder with her mother of POOR Magazine and its many offspring and author of “Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America.”  

Tiny's mother, Mama Dee, launched one of our most revolutionary and, to date, unfunded and unsupported media advocacy projects, called Courtwatch.  Tiny writes this of her mothers' beginnings:
An unwanted child – unprotected, uncared for and, most terrifying, unloved – this was my poor broke-down mama of mixed race, Taina-Boricua, Roma and Irish descent. To the pedophiles, social workers, teachers and foster parents, she was only one thing, a colored child, without a parent who loved her, framed as a “burden to the state,” foster industry code used to solicit funding for her care. I reflected on my mama’s tragic story, which eventually led to her breakdown as an adult when I was 11 years old, as I was reading the crazy story of the “well-intentioned” U.S. missionaries facing charges in Haiti for child trafficking.

"The lines have always been blurred between colonizer-killer, caregiver and educator in the child stealing-fostering-adoption industry."

The herstory of repression of children and youth locally and globally begins with the racist, classist herstory of the orphan. For hundreds of years, from the Americas to Australia, missionaries targeted Native children as a key element of their assault on indigenous cultures, race and language. Stealing Native children who had parents to teach them the white man’s way and ultimately de-indigenize them at missionary and/or government run boarding schools became the template for the local and global orphanages that exist today in Nicaragua, Zimbabwe, India, Haiti and beyond.

...the goal to “protect” children in need, which is a good goal. But it becomes problematic when the concept of “in need” is judged through a Western, Eurocentric lens...imbued with this belief, missionaries and aid workers may actually believe they are “saving” the working child cared for by multiple community members in a village in Malawi, Nicaragua or Haiti. And like their Western counterparts in this process of seizure, the aid worker and missionary all use and abuse the phrase, “ in the best interests of the child.”
Read this entire explosive piece, The myth of the orphan – from Haiti to Hayward.

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