Prepare to Accessorize your compassion…

Not sure if you saw this, but I did, and am perplexed. I applaud the efforts of everyone involved and the cause is astounding. Even watched Oprah (eek!), read the manifesto, and skimmed the blog, does that mean I’m a part of the process now? Do I really have to buy the stuff I don’t need anyway?

I’m just wondering if this is not the big huge bright symbol to the world that the only thing our generation has to offer is its consumption. I consume, and ‘accessorize your compassion’ [sic], and therefore I make a change in the world. It to me seems like the laziest of all contributions to world health and activism. It is a wonderful business model that I applaud to the heavens, but I’m just wondering aloud if this means that ‘I shop, therefore I am’ and if it just furthers us along a road to being the most apathetic generation of all time.

What particularly astounds me—is that while Africa needs its anti-retrovirals or ARVs as they called it throughout the show I saw. Too apathetic to even call it what it is, or the mumbo-jumbo medical jargon would make it seem less cute or not branded as cool/sleek/sexy (words that Oprah & Bono used to the point that I wished them both ill as they were making me) and completely destroy the branding momentum they had going on.

Are we that shallow as people that even our most wonderful causes have to be made glam before we can bother to get involved. Again I say that this is an astounding effort that will by its simple nature cause other giant multi-national corporations & empires get involved as well as they all scramble to brand themselves with compassion. That is something I will gladly accept, and welcome, as it is ushered in by this high-profile celebrity-endorsed campaigns to come.

However for a country that sees its people of color contracting AIDS in record numbers and truly reaching epidemic proportions so close to home – I wonder if it isn’t really necessary for us to concentrate or glamorize our own causes closer to the hearth. I find it almost hypocritical and a bit condescending to be funding third world ‘ARVs’ & having pilgrimages by Alicia Keys, and spokesmen like Kanye West & Motorola lauding or supporting this effort while there is a young black woman in America buying their albums that needs her Anti-Retrovirals as well.

I am not heartless & the plight of South Africa as it struggles with the most reckless & nightmarish governmental leaderships – and the rest of Africa as it struggles to embolden itself and to deal with this crisis. I am cogently doubtful. It is refreshing to see Gap stop using slave labor in the mezzo Americas to exploit African craftsmanship for its T-shirts, really I am, and hope that this will help them like no micro-loan ever would.

However do I step over the sister who is in the gutter dying here at home with my Gap inspi(red) T-shirt, obliviously listening to my (red) iPod Nano, so I can then chat on my Motorola chirping phone about the new watch I bought at Armani – to some other friend feeling smug that I’ve helped someone half way across the world in abysmal conditions while ignoring the crisis at home? Is that the message I as a consumer want to send. I return to my mantra in DC > EACH ONE TEACH ONE <, it isn’t only about celebrity endorsed crisis, but waking up and realizing that the specter is a little closer to home. So if I buy these things perhaps I should give them to the people here who are struggling to get their medication, because at least they will look good as they die in droves.

Sorry to rain on Bono & Oprah’s parade, but since they won’t take up the cause yet — let me start by not purchasing these things until I figured out a way to educate and empower or BRAND the people who live on my block.

PS: ‘accessorize your compassion’ [sic], The only compassion I see this accessorizing are the companies that have their brand identified with it. Congratulations to them all for donating a very small percentage of the proceeds to the cause. (Average: 10%= $10 on a $200 iPod) [Quick lesson in economics – they still make a profit!]

Red American Express Card

However —and this is so like me— I DO WANT A RED AMERICAN EXPRESS card, and am willing to move to England to get one. Does that make everything I said hypocritical—you bet it does. No one realizes the power of the brand more than I, and all of its complexities to human nature.