Monday, 24 November 2014

Bandaid 30 and questions on charities attitudes to disability

Bandaid 30 and questions on charities attitudes to disability Inspired by a excellent piece I read over at disability now by Ian Macrae The piece makes some excellent points and draws some interesting comparisons between the roles of charity with helping those in Africa and those who are disabled in this country and the attitudes present in each. I can identify with allot of what he writes in terms of how charity can make us who are on the receiving end feel as a result of their work. Allot of charity relies on portraying the objects of a charity as poor things and need to be pitied I get this allot with blind charities like the RNIB and similar ones who will often make out blind people are incapable of living independent lives and do nothing to challenge the popular idea of disabled people needing help for even the smallest of daily tasks and that life is a existence. While for some it may be pretty depressing but many blind people I know live very fulfilling lives. I republish the disability now piece by Ian below "As the charity single hits No 1 on the UK chart, the thoughts of a British/African musician raise some questions on charity of Ian Macrae Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way first. I’m writing this blog post sitting in the headquarters of one of Britain’s biggest disability charities. Scope funds the Disability Now website and also pays my wages. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t ask and address difficult questions relating to charity and disability. Indeed the fact that I am sitting where I am empowers me to do so. So I was fired up to read a recent piece by Fuse ODG a British musician who comes from the Ghanaian diaspora. In it he explained why he had felt unable to accept Bob Geldof’s no doubt strongly persuasive invitation to join the Bandaid 30 project. Not only did he object to the re-written lyrics, he also recognised the irony of Africa, which he described as a resource rich continent constantly being portrayed by those outside it as death-ridden and poverty stricken. Acknowledging that the starry line-up, striking though negative images and charitable sentiment associated with the song might deliver short term benefits, he also said that the long term damage would be more difficult to undo. The question central to this point of view is to what extent do initiatives like Bandaid happen and exist to promote themselves and sustain their existence> ? As a service user of one of the big old impairment charities, I have previously come to a similar realisation. As blind people we were always suspicious about the fact that we were often portrayed and presented as worthy, even deserving of public pity. It was clearly in the charities interest to present us in this way because that’s what persuaded the public to put their hands in their pockets and donate. But what was not in question was whether such imagery was of benefit to us or whether it served instead to perpetuate the charities’ existence. Our suspicion was that they were serving their own ends and agenda. While charities may think that this disabled point of view is all well and good, they also argue that without fund raising they would not be able to go on providing the sorts of products and services we needed. But we disabled people go on to ask more questions. What’s the trade off? Is it worth the price? And to what extent should we sell or be sold out? Could Bandaid 30 have done things differently? Almost certainly as a bunch of African musicians, including Amadu et Marianne, the Blind Couple of Mali halve demonstrated. But the other thing the single has brought about is a commonality between a twenty-something British/African musician and a blind journalist who is getting on a bit. Neither of us like being portrayed as objects of charity."

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