Archive for January, 2010

How You Can Help Haiti. Right Now.

Cross Posted from Rosetta Thurman:

Yesterday, I made my very first donation by text. Tears rolled down my face as I punched in each number on my cell phone. I couldn’t stop crying because I wanted to do more. So much more.

As you all know, on January 12, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. As a result, the country is in ruins, and more than 100,000 are feared dead. Up to 3 million people could be affected by this earthquake, the worst in 200 years. Given the recent events and devastation brought upon Haiti, I cannot think of anything more important that we can do right now than to lend your voice, efforts, and money to our brothers and sisters in Haiti who are in such desperate need now and will be for the long term. For right now, aid officials are asking folks NOT to collect donated goods as there is no on the ground capacity to distribute unsorted random goods and won’t be for some time. The devastation is such that they also don’t want people going down there independently as roads are closed and not passable. So, the best thing to do right now is to give cash. The quickest way to give is by mobile giving through your cell phone. Here’s how:

* SMS text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts
* SMS text “YELE” to 501501 to Donate $5 to Yele Haiti’s Earthquake Relief efforts (Yele was established by recording artist Wyclef Jean)
* Canadian folks can text the word “Haiti” to 45678 (Canada only) on behalf of the Salvation Army in Canada

Your donation goes to the recipient charity, and the donation appears as a charge on your carrier bill. You or your organization can also make a gift to any of these charities that are on the ground providing assistance. The Washington Post has compiled an even more comprehensive list of charities to support.

If you cannot give money, please give your thoughts and prayers to the people of Haiti during this tragedy.

If you cannot give money, please show your support on Twitter or Facebook. Many folks are looking for ways that they can help right now. Please consider updating your status message with something like this:

* Text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts. (Facebook)
* Text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts. #Haiti (Twitter)

If you are in the midst of planning any events to support the relief effort, please consider collecting MONEY instead of supplies. Governments worldwide are responding to the current disaster by sending search and rescue teams as well as goods. Relief organizations are also ramping up their efforts and sending out calls for support. The best thing we can do from the U.S. right now is to send our thoughts, prayers, and money.

“Yele” means a “cry for freedom.” Let’s please do our part to let them know we hear their cry.

If you’re in Washington, DC, here are a few ways to get involved with relief efforts:

Helping Haiti from the Hill
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Hawk ‘n’ Dove
Upstairs bar
329 Pennsylvania Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20003
Please join us for a happy hour fundraiser to support the emergency relief efforts that are severely needed in Haiti. Each contribution makes a difference, not matter the amount. Donations will be made to the Red Cross and Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti.Helping Haiti from the Hill
Helping Haiti from the Hill

Thursday, January 14, 2010, 6:00-8:00pm

Hawk ‘n’ Dove
Upstairs bar
329 Pennsylvania Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20003

Please join us for a happy hour fundraiser to support the emergency relief efforts that are severely needed in Haiti. Each contribution makes a difference, not matter the amount. Donations will be made to the Red Cross and Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti.
Crisis Camp Haiti

Saturday, January 16, 2010 from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

This Saturday, CrisisCamp will bring together volunteers to collaborate on technology projects which aim to assist in Haiti’s relief efforts by providing data, information, maps and technical assistance to NGOs, relief agencies and the public. This event is free and open to the public. You don’t have to be technical to volunteer time. Please visit the event page for registration, logistics, and more information as the planning unfolds.
January 20 Fundraiser for Haiti

The Black Professional Network DC will be hosting an event to raise funds for the victims of the recent 7.0 earthquake in Haiti where an estimated 100,000 lives may have been taken. Renowned singer Loide Jorge and her band will be performing. 100% of raised funds and goods will be provided to Yele, a nonprofit founded by Wyclef Jean that provides relief efforts in Haiti.

When: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 6:00pm-1:00am
Where: Liv, 2001 11th Street NW St (11th and U St) Washington, DC

Please post any events, fundraisers or other organized relief efforts that you know of in the comments. Are the Young Nonprofit Professionals Networks doing anything? Please let me know!


Black, Successful, and (not so) Unhappy

It’s taken me a long time to talk about the now-infamous Helena Andrews profile on Black Girl Blogging, because it made me so upset. Not because I think there is truth to how lonely, sad, and unlovable black women are, but because I know that there isn’t much truth to it to begin with.

What really sticks out to me are the lack of narratives about Black women who are happy for reasons other than finding and keeping a man. The “single, sad, lonely Black woman” meme assumes that without a man we can’t be happy and can’t even begin our search for happiness.

My black girl blogger-in-crime Rosetta Thurman has started a “happiness project” of her own called The Diary of a Happy Black Woman. A few nights ago on Twitter, she talked about why she has decided to embark on this new project.

I hadn’t thought about this angle of the story until I saw it mentioned in the above tweet. What really has annoyed me about the whole damn dialog about the poor, single Black women is that it not only paints all Black women as unlovable, but it also assumes that until we find a man we can’t be happy or fulfilled. It even pre-supposes that Black women should be perpetually unhappy.

Yes, there are Black women out there who are sad and who are lonely…and perhaps who are also angry. But those feelings often have very little to do with their marital status (or lack thereof). Many of us  can find ourselves feeling that way even after we’ve found the supposedly elusive relationship with a successful Black man. I should know: I was one of them for quite some time before ending my last immediate long-term relationship (another story entirely).

It’s true that I have since then started a new relationship with a new partner, but I spent the better part of 2009 getting back in tune with the things that make me happy outside of being with someone who liked me and cared about me and took me out on dates and stuff.

In 2009, I lost 42 pounds after getting back in touch with physical activities I love (yoga, dance, walking/jogging), and doing something else I loved too–cooking delicious, healthy meals. I explored new angles and avenues to the media career I have chosen for myself and began to carve my own niche. I traveled to different cities and went to some great conferences. I kept in touch with old friends and made new ones. And I did all of that despite not having  a boo by my side to witness me doing all of this. I did the “brave” thing and started last year without a relationship, having broken up with my then-boyfriend around this time last year. And I regret not one damn second of it.

My soror and friend Cheri had a great response to the profile on Helena Andrews, with whom she happened to have attended Columbia once upon a time:

She said “I’m a successful black woman” several times, listed off the things that validated the statement, and then says she isn’t happy. I know many women who describe themselves this way, and they too end up in that same place at the end of the sentence. “I’m a successful black woman, why can’t I find love or happiness?”

It might be worth while to go back to the beginning of the sentence and see where we made a wrong turn.

What is success? I’ve heard it described a number of ways: having a degree (or two), a house, a car, a job, the right clothes, and/or invites to the right parties. Some women define it as beginning married or having a child. But in many cases, all of this “success” is not accompanied with happiness.

If what you want is happiness, then are you really successful without it?

Someone along the way told us the work is done once you get the tools. We want a cake – so we get the eggs, sugar, and the flour…. but we leave them on the counter and go get ready for the club. We go out, drink, dance, have a good time, and wonder why we don’t have a cake with cute rose petal frosting details when we get back. We want the results but have not done the work.

In this first week of 2010, I’ve had the chance to think about what new things I want to do at Black Girl Blogging this year and in years to come. If there’s one thing Helena Andrews’s new book Bitch is the New Black and the accompanying profile in the Washington Post showed me, it was the need for more Black women telling their stories and having their stories told their way. Stay tuned and join me as I feature and highlight Black women (and a few men) who have made their lives and their work about a pursuit–or several pursuits–of happiness.