U.S. humanitarian aid for Ukraine is proof we can do more for Americans

by Tanesha Peeples
U.S. humanitarian aid for Ukraine is proof we can do more for Americans
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The United States Senate has authorized 13.6 billion dollars for emergency military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine with growing pressure to provide more assistance. The funds will be used for food, medicine, shelter and support for the two million refugees that have fled the country because of the Russian invasion

I understand exhibiting humanitarianism and being empathetic to the people of Ukraine. I also understand being diplomatic and fighting against tyranny.

What I don’t understand is if America can easily give other countries billions of dollars in humanitarian aid, why can’t our government apply that same energy here at home?

I raised this same question about student loan forgiveness in a piece I wrote about President Biden’s State of the Union Address. That speech was when I first got wind of how much money we were giving the war-torn country. But, I also noticed how POTUS failed to provide an update on his promise of relief to us 46.4 million Americans saddled with student loan debt.

In addition to student loan debt forgiveness, I can think of a few other matters 13.6 billion dollars can be used for to aid Americans. Homelessness is one.

Americans need humanitarian aid

A few days ago, police were on the hunt for a serial killer that shot five homeless people on the streets of New York City and Washington D.C. While a suspect is now in custody, just imagine if the two victims killed had adequate housing provided by the government. Their lives could have possibly been saved.

The New York Times reported that assaults against unsheltered people are rising. Between 2009 and 2019, there were close to 2,000 attacks and nearly 500 of those were fatal. If this is a significant issue, why isn’t there more effort and investment in providing shelter, permanent housing and other services for the unhoused? That $13.6 billion could help.

While we may be unsure of the individual motives that drive these attacks, we know that mental illness certainly plays a role. Not only does it plague one-third of the homeless population and is a reason why they’re on the streets, it also affects millions of Americans in general.  Giving billions to increase mental health services would certainly support that demographic in coping with their illnesses.

Americans need a robust education

Those billions in humanitarian aid could also improve the quality and delivery of public education.

We kick the word “equity” around nowadays like it’s a rock on the street. Yet, predominantly Black and Latino school districts receive $5,000 less in per pupil funding compared to ones that are mostly White and wealthy.

Also, many teachers are overworked and underpaid. Both those realities have been exacerbated by the pandemic. 

Billions could go a long way in helping to close that funding gap and realize a more quality education for marginalized groups and enhanced teaching experience for educators.

Black Americans need reparations

Lastly – and I may lose a few people here but, whatever – billions are owed in reparations to Black Americans. Continuing to ignore the pain and trauma inflicted on our ancestors and the harm it’s caused generations, and continuing to dismiss the pervasive oppression that hampers our communities today, is a slap in the face. A direct contradiction of justice. 

Just as the United States will likely continue to support Ukraine after the war, restoration and restitution for enslaved Africans and their descendants should not be bound by an expiration date. 

The same issues the Ukrainians are facing now, we’ve been battling for centuries and on a daily basis–food insecurity, lack of housing options, lack of access to medicine, healthcare and mental health services, plus more. So while many of us have our eyes on the crisis in Ukraine, the crises we face here at home are killing us. 

Our government can have empathy and bestow humanitarian aid to allies like Ukraine. It also has to practice meaningful and intentional investment to exterminate the societal ills thriving in our own backyard. And we have to be diligent in making them do so.

5 comments

Gina March 16, 2022 - 10:47 pm

I just googled “If the USA has $800 million for Ukraine, why can’t we have free healthcare and house the homeless?” (and improve education and access to college and other career training, etc), and your article seems to be the only one to pop up. Thank you for sensitively approaching the subject.

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Sandra L Pyette March 20, 2022 - 3:09 pm

As you drive anywhere in America, you WILL pass many tents, cardboard boxes, and grocery carts full of belonging of the homesless. It makes me ill to see that our greedy government is so fast to deliver billions to another country when we are suffering here in America. We the people have had it. Changes must be made to our government or a collapse of U.S. government may be OUR future. Start supporting us, the people, like we have supported you in the past.

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Global Food Crisis may arise as Putin's War in Ukraine wages on March 23, 2022 - 2:45 pm

[…] Humanitarian Aid suggests a domestic food crisis can be averted.  […]

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JM April 23, 2022 - 7:25 am

Thank you for a thoughtful and well-written article. I was searching for something that could speak to the thoughts in my head and you nailed it! I wanted to vent about why the government can spend billions of our tax dollars overseas but can’t agree on how to make amends for the Tulsa massacre, redlining, years of systematic racism in employment, housing and educational opportunities and even the fact that they’ve legalized marijuana but leave thousands of blacks in prison who were jailed for this very offense. We, blacks, should have a say In how those billions get spent. For my money, I need more than symbolic holidays established to recognize black struggles and talk about doing better with killing black people and facing no penalty for it. Our, yes, our elected officials are making it happen for Ukrainian people but quick. How about doing that right here for US black citizens who built this country and continue to try to get a fair sliver of its shrinking pie? Even the Ukrainian immigrants now flooding into the US get housing and support. We can start there for the American homeless. Just saying.

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Thea May 18, 2022 - 8:57 am

It’s not only blacks who are poor & homeless in thee US & not receiving any help. I’m a 56 year old white woman & I have been homeless since a tornado destroyed my home in 2011. We did not qualify for help because not enough of our county was destroyed. I am beyond angry that ‘our’ government is so willing to help other countries when there are so many people in America who are suffering & need assistance. I’m tired of being ignored & denied.

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