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  • mumtahw

This or That: You've Got the Power!

Updated: Apr 18

My friend and I had a conversation a few days ago about the state of the world. He is a true empath, perhaps even a passivist, and Rastafarian. He contemplates reality quite often and is quite often saddened by humanity. The talk started out about something he saw on Instagram about Belgium's King Leopold II. The video he saw taught that during Leopold's late nineteenth century reign over the Congo in Central Africa he would have the hands of enslaved Congolese hacked off if they did not reach the imposed quota for retrieved rubber. In a campaign in support of this vicious behavior, Belgians began making chocolates in the shape of hands.


With a little digging I found this is not altogether accurate. Yes, the chocolate hands are absolutely a thing. However, Belgian fascination with hands goes back long before Leopold to an incident in ancient Rome. As the story goes, there was a giant terrorizing the people. For anyone who did not want to pay the toll to cross the bridge that topped a particular river, he would chop off their right hand. After a while, there came a great Roman soldier who beat up the giant, cut off his right hand, and chucked it into the river, saving the day. This story has served the country with such national pride that Antwerp, a port city of northern Belgium, was actually named for the heroic event. The Dutch ant translates to hand and werpen to thrower. Antwerp is also known as the chocolate capital. Hence, chocolate hands.


All that being said, Leopold II is still responsible for the murders of ten million Congolese, not only from the amputation of hands but also genitals and other limbs, as well as more atrocities such as massacres of entire villages. Leopold's reign was so horrific that other European colonizers condemned his ways. Yes. He was that bad. (May Creator deal with them all accordingly. Amin.)


As my friend and I journeyed together through our thoughts we discussed how little people know- in particular, First World people- or even want to know where our everyday wares started. For instance, in regard to Leopold's oppressed, how many of us think about where our rubber tires come from? The process from tree to vehicle (car, bus, motorcycle, etc.)? Or even the sneakers that we, certainly as Black American people, relish, paying what I and he consider ridiculous prices to own. Somehow from there we ended up on Lil Uzi Vert's $24,000 (or some quote $30,000) diamond that he had surgically sewn onto his forehead. What madness!


After my phone arbitrarily cut our conversation short, I decided to revisit a comparison chart that I began a while ago. I routinely give to humanitarian organizations at home and abroad. Over and over, I am baffled by how small an amount of money can literally change a person's life forever. How many times have I wasted money on Whole Foods snacks that were eaten and forgotten about within minutes when I could have given someone back their sight? Certainly, I own at least four pairs of shoes that sit on a shelf unworn. The money wasted on them could have gone to help parents of children with cancer pay their medical bills, or several Subway gift cards passed out to people living without homes so they may eat more than the single meal they would get if I bought the food myself. Though I often give to others I am always questioning if the way I spent on myself was the best way I could have used what I consider a blessing from the Creator. The following comparison is for me as much as for you.


Let me stress before going further that this chart is not intended to cast accusations nor criticize how anyone uses their purchasing power. The purpose is to, hopefully, get people to rethink how they spend, and come to understand the impact that they as individuals can make in the world. We do not and should not wait around for someone else to take charge and make good things happen. If you are a self-proclaimed empath, lover of humanity, or exposer of truths via Instagram or TikTok I expect that you will begin (or do more) to funnel capital where it can make the biggest affect before lavishing yourself in unnecessary luxuries.


Humanitarian relief organizations that will be used in the comparison are:


Crossroads International/CI (a minimum of $10 helps fight for human rights and gender equality for women and girls in Sub-Saharan Africa)


Himalayan Cataract Project/HCP ($25 will restore the site of 1 person who has gone blind due to bad cataracts; post-surgery patients are able to go to school, earn a living for themselves and their families, or just watch the sunset.)


Malala Fund/MF ($25 or more monthly helps girls who are not allowed to attend secondary school in several countries pursue an education for 12 years.)


World Vision/WV ($25 or more monthly can help supply water to children throughout the world- approximately 800 children under 5 years old perish daily due to diarrhea from dirty water.)


Islamic Circle of North America Relief/ICNA (refugee care packages start at $100 and include food, kitchen items, bedding and more.


St. Jude's Children's Hospital/SJ ($19 a month supports the prevention of/research for a cure for childhood cancer and other catastrophic diseases regardless of a family's race, religion, or financial situation; donation comes with a cool tee.






Birkin bag $29,000 -or-

CI- support gender equality at least 2,900 times

HCP- restore sight to 1,160 people

MF- send 96 girls to school for the year

WV- give clean water for the year at least 96 times

ICNA- give at least 290 refugee care packages

SJ- support pediatric medical research at least 1,526 times











Yeezy slides $270 -or-

CI- support gender equality at least 270 times

HCP- restore sight to 10 people

MF- send 1 girl to school for nearly a year

WV- give clean water at least 10 times

ICNA- give 2 refugee care packages

SJ- support pediatric medical research at least 14 times




Jimmy Choo $4,900 -or-

CI- support gender equality at least 490 times

HCP- restore sight back to 196 people

MF- send 196 girls to school for the year

WV- give clean water for the year at least 196 times

ICNA- give at least 49 refugee care packages

SJ- support pediatric medical research at least 2,578 \times










Louis Vuitton $1,890 -or-

CI- support gender equality at least 189 times

HCP- restore sight back to 6

MF- send 96 girls to school for the year

WV- give clean water for the year at least 6 times

ICNA- give 18 refugee care packages

SJ- support pediatric medical research at least 99 times










Rolex $23,000 -or-

CI- support gender equality at least 2,300 times

HCP- restore sight back to 920

MF- send 76 girls to school for the year

WV- give clean water for the year at least 76 times

ICNA- give 230 refugee care packages

SJ- support pediatric medical research at least 1,210 times










Brazilian Butt Lift $8,000 -or-

CI- support gender equality at least 8000 times

HCP- restore sight back to 920

MF- send 26 girls to school for the year

WV- give clean water for the year at least 26 times

ICNA- give 80 refugee care packages

SJ- support pediatric medical research at least 421 times







Netflix $186 (standard, annually) -or-

CI- support gender equality at least 18 times

HCP- restore sight back to 7

MF- send 1 girl to school for more than half the year

WV- give clean water for the year at least 7 times

ICNA- give 1 refugee care package

SJ- support pediatric medical research at least 9 times







Newport $300 (monthly) -or-

CI- support gender equality at least 30 times

HCP- restore sight back to 12

MF- send 1girl to school for the year

WV- give clean water for the year at least 1 time

ICNA- give 3 refugee care packages

SJ- support pediatric medical research at least 15 times








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