Awareness main goal of T-shirts
Letter to the Editor | Friday, April 20, 2007
I would like to thank Thomas Klepach for his Letter to the Editor (“T-shirts raise awareness, limit funds,” April 18). As activists, we must always ask ourselves how we can best deliver our message, work toward our cause, and not lose sight of the real goal at hand. Social justice activists, in particular, must avoid becoming good-intentioned people who lose sight of the real purpose of their work. However, in regards to the choice of the Millennium Development Goals Task Force of the CSC to use T-shirts in their action week advocacy, I will give no apology.
First, unlike Klepach speculated, the cost of the MDG T-shirts were entirely funded through a private company, which holds the Millennium Development Goals and the work of this task force close to its heart. Its generosity in donating the T-shirts is what enables us to give the entire $10 cost of each T-shirt to the Malaria No More bed-net distribution in Africa. The shirt is by no means intended to encourage “publicly lauding the self for donating to an anti-malaria cause.” On the contrary, the main purpose of these shirts is to raise awareness about all eight of the Millennium Development Goals – thus the large eight on the shirt – to which many students at Notre Dame have had little to no exposure.
This is about teaching our campus that these goals exist and that the U.S. government has not fulfilled its commitments to them. The shirt aims to encourage people to ask questions, such as Klepach’s, and to inspire students to help make the goals a reality. Furthermore, issues like malaria are not simply about “garnering resources for a charitable effort on another continent,” as Klepach states. This is exactly the mentality about global issues that we hope to squash in our action week. Although monetary donations are obviously important, the largest impact we can have on issues of poverty, inequality, environmental injustice, etc. is through changing our ways of thinking about the marginalized, changing the way our government prioritizes its funds and the way we decide to spend our time.
We are trying to shift the paradigm that led to these inequalities, in the first place. Awareness is the first step. If this task force were primarily a fundraising group, which we are not, then perhaps it would have been more helpful to the children of Africa to donate the money from our sponsor company directly to the bed net fundraiser. But then our already informed task force would be the only people learning anything. Through our T-shirt campaign we have the potential to create hundreds more dedicated students to the MDGs and, in the future, the number of bed-net donations will far exceed anything a few individuals could do.
This T-shirt will serve as a constant reminder of our commitment to think and act toward these goals each day we wear it. For these reasons, we feel that the benefits of our campaign far outweigh the costs.