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Monday, February 3, 2014

The Locust Effect and The Problem of Poverty

The main topic in “The Locust Effect” breaks my heart. It is basically the argument that I made for my final project in my Ethical Philosophy of Global Justice class.

Violence and crime affect the poor. Trafficking, rape, and other forms of violence are problem of an unequal distribution of resources.

Though this book is specific to the developing world, it was seeing this poverty in my backyard as a kid that helped me to really see the problem of poverty for what it is.

One in three Native American women on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, just two hours from my hometown in South Dakota, has been raped. Kids are born into gangs, and drugs use is prevalent at the age of eight and nine. The average income is $5,000 - $7,000 a year for a family of 14 people with an unemployment rate of 85%. Very few home have running water and electricity. Pine Ridge is one of the top three poorest counties in the US and very few people even know that it exists. It is like a mini third world country in the middle of America.

Poster Response to my Time in Haiti - Photo of a girl I taught art lessons to
Being dark-skinned (in comparison) in a white school, neighborhood, and church while being so close to this poverty growing up opened my eyes at a young age to the reality that most people in Rapid City chose to ignore or see it as a problem of the dark-skinned other rather than a problem of poverty. Oh it's those "poor Indians," like 'The Indians' were the problem. You can check out my poster series on the topic to learn more about the Reservations in South Dakota...

These ironies of those with nothing being blamed by those with excess didn't stop at the reservation. I have seen this fear of "the other" and mentality of "blaming the victim" towards the poor in the countries I have visited (India, Haiti and Mexico) over and over as well. Before traveling traveling, while away and upon return.

The Locust Effect” turns this view point of blaming the victim and fear of the other upside down. It does so by acknowledging the issue of poverty in a way that will not turn people off but rather will inspire the reader to make a change.

The “The Locust Effect” takes this concept of poverty as the problem one step further to the issue of the justice system in the developing world. The system is corrupted and the consequence is that those in poverty don’t have the money to pay for their own protection. Meanwhile the rich reap the benefits.

As you guys know, I am about change while sharing the truth through my art. This book does not simply expose the negative but also talks about hope and possibilities for dealing with the corruption and lack of justice, which I like.

To purchase the book this week and $20 will go directly to IJM to fight violence against the poor.
Be sure to check out these other blog posts in response to the book if you are interested in Haiti, children in the US, poverty, or the brief history of the American locust plague.


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