1. So I'm sure many of you know about that video about Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony
produced by the NGO Invisible Children that went viral a couple of days ago (if you don't know what I'm talking about, look up "Kony 2012" on YouTube). The video has become quite a big deal, generating a lot of buzz and publicity in a remarkably short amount of time; I've seen many people on LJ, Twitter, and Facebook talk about it, so I felt it was necessary to do a post about it, much like the 2009 protests in Iran and last year's "Arab Spring." I would make a big linkdump about it, complete with pertinent quotes, but I've been feeling too lazy and tired to do one up this time, and besides, many people have already beaten me to it:
has put together a great assortment of links and relevant quotes
has its big compendium of links here
; of particular interest is The Guardian's liveblog of the fallout
--The conveniently titled "Reader's digest to Kony 2012"
I know it may seem like a ton of links to deal with, each attached to rather long reads, but I highly, highly
recommend you skim them at the very least. The issues, criticisms, and commentary Invisible Children's campaign has raised can't be neatly summed up in a quick soundbite, and it's very important to read up on the issues
before you decide to donate money or engage in activism -- not just on this particular issue, but on everything else as well.
I personally find myself agreeing with the backlash against IC's campaign, and while I think #Kony2012 has good intentions, it has not been thought out very well. The campaign appears to ignore much of the context of the conflict in Uganda, such as how Kony and the LRA became prominent, the circumstances in which (and reasons why) it happened, and the legacy of European colonialism and imperialism that ultimately led such a situation to come about in the first place. The campaign also paints a picture of Uganda that is overly simplistic and reductive; it plays into the common media narrative of Africa being a place of nothing but war, starvation, and poverty, and that only Americans/the West/white people can "save" Africans from this predicament. Not only is this narrative rooted in the same kinds of ideas that led European powers to colonize Africa in the first place, but it's also extremely inaccurate, given that a variety of peoples and cultures exist on the continent, that there are already many organizations on the ground in areas affected by the LRA
run by Africans themselves doing the work IC claims to be doing, and that many Africans
-- some of whom have been directly affected by Kony's violence
-- take issue with the campaign and suggest better ways of going about it. The fact that the campaign's promoters don't appear to be listening to the voices of Africans themselves, especially those of the people they're purporting to stand for, shows how paternalistic it really is, and how it's nothing more than "Kony is evil, he used child soldiers, he must be brought to justice." Obviously Kony is evil and needs to be brought to justice, but if you think about the "nuts and bolts"
of how to do it
, and the consequences it might bring
, then you realize just how good intentions aren't enough.
Obviously these criticisms shouldn't be an excuse to dismiss #Kony2012 as an exercise in feel-good activism targeting American college students; human rights violations are an affront to all of humanity, and we shouldn't stand by and let them happen. But creating change isn't nearly as glamorous as the video makes it out to be, and context (and the nuances, complexities, and frustrations that come with it) matters. If something seems too black-and-white, it probably is. It pays to do your research and come up with your own conclusions, and this is no exception.
Onto other things:
2. This is the best modern-day retelling of a fairy tale you'll see this week, hands down:
3. I don't post fic recs that often on here, but I found a great LoGH fic worth checking out: Inheritance
. Cross-dressing!young!Reuenthal fic that's not crack and is actually pretty well-written? YESPLZ. :D
4. A continuation of the seven-questions meme from the last post, this time from iron_valkyrie
:( Read more... )