Giving Tuesday: Charity or Justice?

The Second Cooler Main Graphic, KilpatrickToday is Giving Tuesday. I don’t know who started this but I’m willing to jump on board.

Each of us who give portions of our discretionary money has to make a decision. Do I give in ways that help change unjust systems?  Or do I give in ways that meet immediate needs? Justice or charity?

There is a story that illustrates the problem. There once were some people standing at the edge of a river. One of them noticed a baby floating down the river. She scooped the baby out of the water. She and her friends located a warm blanket, warm milk, and a warm home for the baby to live in. Meanwhile, another baby floated down the river. And another. The friends formed a committee to find warm blankets, warm milk, and warm homes for the many babies who were floating down the river.

Finally, someone asked, “Who is putting all these babies in the river? Why are they doing it? How can we stop the putting of babies in the river?”

Charity or justice? Meet immediate needs or change the system? How do we choose?

This is a fundamental problem artists, including filmmakers, face every day. How do we convince people who have limited amounts of discretionary income that justice is worth investing in?

The Second Cooler, my immigrant advocacy documentary narrated by Martin Sheen, helps pull back the curtain on reality. It helps give people interested in justice for unauthorized migrants as well as domestic laborers targets: the ending of free trade agreements, the need for a visa which would allow people without title to land and / or  large sums of money to come to the U. S. legally, the abolition of the guest worker program to name a few.

I made the film because I believed that if enough people bought the film, watched it, and absorbed the message, it would help bring about changes to an unjust system.

But what about the immediate life and death needs of displaced human beings — the illegal immigrant in the Sonora Desert right now, the child in foster care now because his parents were deported, the guest worker being robbed of wages as I write this post? Who helps them while the wheels of justice grind slowly?

I would like to suggest that this does not have to be an either / or decision. I would like to suggest that you buy a copy of The Second Cooler, watch it, and carefully think about the ways in which the system needs to change. And, just as importantly, that you think about what Comprehensive Immigration Reform as it was spelled out in S. 744, really is.

You can buy The Second Cooler and The Second Cooler Soundtrack, either in the DVD/CD format or as a digital download here:
I also would like to suggest that you make a contribution to one of these organizations which helps meet immediate needs. I don’t have a good opinion of many of the advocacy groups which are asking for a portion of your discretionary income, but I have a very good opinion of these. Those marked with an asterisk are also The Second Cooler partners.

Border Angels

Coalición de derechos humanos *

Detention Watch Network

Farmworker Association of Florida

Florida Legal Services

Humane Borders

New Mexico Faith Coalition for Immigrant Justice *

No More Deaths / No Más Muertes

North Carolina Justice Center *

Student Action With Farmworkers *

Toxic Free North Carolina *


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