Mar 12, 2012

sudden wave of white saviourism

Unless you've been on the road (like me) I'm sure you've heard about the video about Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony by a group problematically called 'Invisible Children' (to echo Roy, no one is invisible, just unseen). It was released on March 5th and in the past week it has had, astoundingly, 75 *million* views on youtube.

There are some great critiques out there of the video, but this one by Adam Branch particularly spoke to me. As he puts it,

"Which brings up the question that I am constantly asked in the US: "What can we do?", where "we" tends to mean American citizens. In response, I have a few proposals.

The first, perhaps not surprising from a professor, is to learn. The conflict in northern Uganda and central Africa is complicated, but not impossible to understand. For several years, I have taught an undergraduate class on the conflict, and although it takes some time and effort, the students end up being well informed and able to come to their own opinions about what can be done. (I am more than happy to share the syllabus with anyone interested!)

In terms of activism, I think the first thing we need to do is to re-think the question: Instead of asking how the US can intervene in order to solve Africa's conflicts, we need to ask what we are already doing to cause those conflicts in the first place. How are we, as consumers, contributing to land grabbing and to the wars ravaging this region? How are we, as American citizens, allowing our government to militarise Africa in the name of the "War on Terror" and securing oil resources?

That is what we have to ask ourselves, because we are indeed responsible for the conflict in northern Uganda - however, we are not responsible to end it by sending military force, as Invisible Children tells us, but responsible for helping to cause and prolong it. In our desire to ameliorate suffering, we must not be complicit in making it worse."

the full article is here.

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