Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Big Picture: Poverty Within White South Africa

"When stories are told about African poverty, race often seems to play a large part. Based in Senegal, Reuters photographer Finbarr O'Reilly (previously featured here for his work in DR Congo) traveled to South Africa earlier this year and visited one of a growing number of squatter camps populated mostly by Afrikaners - white South Africans - to document their stories and help show that, despite the fact that impoverished blacks in the region far outnumber whites, poverty is a human issue, not necessarily racial. O'Reilly: "While most white South Africans still enjoy lives of privilege and relative wealth, the number of poor whites has risen steadily over the past 15 years. Researchers now estimate some 450,000 whites, of a total white population of 4.5 million, live below the poverty line and 100,000 are struggling just to survive in places such Coronation Park, a former caravan camp currently home to more than 400 white squatters. Formerly comfortable Afrikaners recently forced to live on the fringes of society see themselves as victims of 'reverse-apartheid' that they say puts them at an even greater disadvantage than the millions of poor black South Africans."

The snippet above, taken from the Boston Globe, I think hits a really key note that I think a lot of people in developed countries ignore or are just ignorant about. More specifically the line:

"... poverty is a human issue, not necessarily racial."

When most people think of poverty they immediately think of a little village somewhere in Africa with straw roofs, little black children with distended stomachs; the typical "World Vision" view of poverty. Im not saying that isn't true, in some cases is, but people need to realize that it isn't a racial thing, its a human condition that can affect even your next door neighbor. Its NOT something that is thousands of miles away, its in your country, your city, even your neighborhood.

Generally my wish is that people take a stand against poverty, whether its donating to an organization that does development work overseas, or joining an organization that does work overseas and maybe even going over yourself, or even helping out in your own community.


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