Is aid fundamentally racist? Replies and comments to our Twitter poll

by Sasha Alyson

We ran this poll, worldwide, on Twitter in January, 2021:

That was intriguing. We then asked the same question in separate surveys, so that we could compare answers by region. To see the full results by region please go to: How is aid is perceived? Below are highlights from the many comments we got on this story.

Comments from Twitter

The poll drew hundreds of comments. Many agreed that attitudes of superiority were common, but felt that this wasn’t necessarily racial. Here’s a selection of replies. You may add your own comments at the bottom of this page.

FIA Nigeria, @FiaFood: Coming from a part of the world that is a recipient of aid and all the humiliation that comes with it, be rest assured that the racial condescension exuded by most western handlers of the programmes is staggering.

Carl Widegrip Dominguez, @CarlWidegrip: Not most aid work, but some. I believe that there are a handful large NGOs based on actual altruism. But many—especially those directly sponsored by large nations—are initially created to disseminate soft power.

Imran Inayat, @ImranInayat16: In my opinion its more of a religious kinda thing but it’s my opinion you may disagree sir

steve Crown, @SteveCrowne: These organisations are always designed to project other races as backward and unschooled. Top management and procurement of major accessories are always from the dominating race

Julio Carlos, @Julio_reviews: Race superiority and intel for resources and control. It’s just neo-colonialism. But in a point, I don’t blame them, people are naturally selfish. One must believe in the power of his own hands and learn from the past.

G2M-559, @Roboticpies: Wait so is the solution to just not have the aid work at all? Genuinely curious
[Sasha replies: No aid at all would be an improvement, yes. Best of all, in my opinion: give the money directly to individuals. And not as aid, but as reparations.]

Arie van der Sman, @ArievanderSman: And assumptions of religious superiority.

Kevin J Gillard, @KevinJGillard1: They focus on their own continued existence by perpetuating the problems they should be addressing

Talita, @talita_garc: Perhaps it is more about a biased idea of ??cultural superiority. In Brazil colonia the Jesuit priests in a more gentle way had the same superior thinking as the Portuguese explorers, although their attitude tended to be of “aiding,” in their point of view.

Scottish Highlander, @Scot_Highlander: Aid is an instrument of capitalism, keeps poor countries dependent on the system and in perfect obedience. I don’t see what part racism plays in it, other than historically when aid replaced colonialism.

Outspoken Voice, @OutspokenVoice1: I am not sure that any aid has a “racial” bias at all. That said, there is a definite drive for influence and control , specifically with regards to politics (and by default resource control). No country receiving aid is free. They are dependent on subjective interests.

Kwame Steve Egesa, @steve_egess: They do work, I’ve seen impact of such aid to some extend however I can’t rule out self service and gain through the “business” by those who purport to run or manage them at the expense of the real beneficiary

SubhMuk, @SMukerjee1: And corruption.

Adebiyi Kayode Isaac, @CallyKayode: Yes, there is a level of assumed superiority but I don’t think it’s racial.

Snaa Abotaleb, @SnaaTaleb: if these organizations actually need to help, they can work in cash transfer, in my country, Yemen, alot of funds goes as expense operation. for ex: WFP promises vulnerable to pay them cash instead of aids, but they actually did nothing.

Mrs_oumar, @OumarMrs: I took part in this poll, this poll speaks for most of Africa. Just look at how Americans come to north and east Africa to adopt orphans, meanwhile they are responsible for the death of their parents.

Ich bin dumm, du auch, @jesseshadrack: The “Aid” gets withdrawn, if we don’t bend. Soft power.

Amkeni Kenya, @Pmwanyosh: Who feels it knows it…you do not expect the Western European to feel what is happening in Africa for it’s not happening to them.

MMADU, @flozbuchi: The European always sees Africa as children of lesser GOD not really their fault tho, just that we’re stupid enough to give room for it.

MisterL, @LkG_MisterL: what the fuck, helping people is racial superiority? okay then.
[reply from Paulyn Mwia, @meukim: Read the thread. They are not helping anyone. If so, they would have gotten themselves out of a job by “teaching Africa how to fish,” instead they keep themselves relevant for their own benefit.]

A’eesha, @i_am_aaesha: Generally, offering a helping hand when not being asked is often mistaken for pride or hypocrisy in this part of the world (Africa) …So I won’t be surprised if Africans think that offering a helping hand in time of need without being asked is hypocrisy or a complete eye service

Robin Toal, @RobinToal: Not sure this really stands up as a representative survey tbh
[Sasha replies: A Twitter survey cannot possibly be “representative”; I’ve addressed that in the story. But it can offer insight into how perceptions vary between areas. Furthermore, I can find no other research on this. Why not? Wouldn’t the large aid agencies want to know how they are perceived? Or… would they rather not know?]

Raphael Tongoona, @MdharaCodza: The mistrust comes from this: the countries active in aid are the same ones that stole massively during colonialism. They are evil enough to still keep gold, artefacts etc. but are good enough to share meals? Smells like there is an agenda to the aid.

Hailey Marie, @heyhaileymarie: The only answer that matters is the one from the country impacted by those organizations. Clearly they don’t want it

David Chaplin, @Davidchap9000: It’s most probably unconscious, but yes, much aid, however earnestly benign the motive, is associated with a patronising air of ‘we know better what’s good for you than you do’. It wouldn’t be so bad if they did, but in most cases, they don’t. And they don’t know they don’t.

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