As the Notre Dame fire unfurled, a sense of unity was present across the world. You couldn’t scroll through social media without someone mentioning what the iconic cathedral meant to them. What also became quickly apparent was the upset that the immediate fundraising caused, begging the question is there a relation between privilege and financial assistance?
The answer for many is an obvious, resounding yes. The fundraising for Notre Dame has been prioritized over other issues impacting both black and minority areas.
A total of $1 billion has already been raised to rebuild the cathedral with the help of giants like L’Oreal, Apple, Chanel, and Dior. The U.S. Government even offered assistance, though no amount or detail of what that assistance would include has been confirmed.
During this announcement, Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the cathedral an “irreplaceable symbol of Western civilization” Which is just a roundabout way of saying it has higher priority.
Yet work is still being done in Flint to fix their water contamination ‘fully’ in 2020. Six years after their water crisis started. Puerto Rico is still trying to rebuild after the devastating hurricane while facing opposition from President Trump who refuses to help the citizens. Three black churches were burned to the ground days before Notre Dame caught fire.
A tragedy that didn’t directly result in lost lives or impaired living conditions received more media time and immediate financial assistance.
This isn’t to say that Notre Dame doesn’t deserve to receive donations and be rebuilt. It’s legacy and representation of Paris extends far past our imagination. But can we really, morally say that the funds are being properly allocated when the homeless population in Paris increased to 21%? Or when people are without homes and clean water?
The U.S. Government’s willingness to act immediately and possibly provide monetary assistance to France shows how little regard this administration has for hardships going on a national level.
What people do with their money is their own business. It can be hard to criticize them for donating to a cause we deem less important. But when something as recent as this fire gains more attention and raises more money than issues happening on our soil that threatened lives, it’s hard not to be upset.
I can’t relate to any of these tragedies or have the same upset that these effected communities have. I can say that it’s long overdue that we provide financial assistance to everyone in need. Helping people shouldn’t only be done when it personally benefits us.
Our financial assistance for too long has hinged on privilege. We decide to monetarily support causes that will benefit us or make us look good instead of choosing ones that will help save lives. Communities not only across the United States but across the world don’t have clean water, power, or a roof over their head. Instead of helping them, we chose to assist in the reconstruction of a church.
We can’t continue to ignore some tragedies and provide assistance to others. Let’s check our humanity and do better.
Cover image courtesy of Vox0