You must have heard of the viral video created by Invisible Children (IC), a U.S. organization that has launched a one-year campaign (expires December 31, 2012) to eliminate Joseph Kony, the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group in Northern Uganda that has been embroiled in civil conflict with the Ugandan government for 25+ years. The LRA has admittedly used atrocious tactics such as abductions to engage children in conflict, using boys as soldiers and girls as sex slaves. Needless to say, Kony and LRA must go. That’s where my agreement begins and ends with Invisible Children’s work. I appreciate the organization’s commitment to the issue and can see its good intent, but I strongly question the group’s approach, strategy, and work. Below are some of the reasons why.
Lack of context and nuance: in the video, the founder of Invisible Children tells his young son that Kony is a bad guy and he must go. Daddy will work on making sure he is caught. He states, “if we succeed, we change the course of human history.” Such a humble undertaking! Simply, a long socioeconomic and political conflict that has lasted 25+ years and engaged multiple states and actors has been reduced to a story of the good vs bad guy. And if a three-year-old can understand it, so can you. You don’t have to learn anything about the children, Uganda, or Africa. You just have to make calls, put up flyers, sings songs, and you will liberate a poor, forgotten, and invisible people.
This approach obviously denies realities on the ground, inflates fantasies abroad, and strips Ugandans of their agency, dignity and humanity- the complexity of their story and history. The work, consequence, and impact are all focused on Uganda, but the agency, accountability, and resources lie among young American students. Clearly a dangerous imbalance of power and influence; one that can have adverse lasting effects on how and what people know of Uganda. It reduces the story of Northern Uganda, and perhaps even all of Uganda, into the dreaded single narrative of need and war, followed by western resolve and rescue. As we have seen from the past, without nuance and context, these stories stick in the collective memory of everyday people for years in their simplest forms: Uganda becomes wretched war. Whatever good IC may advance in raising more awareness on the issue or even contributing to the capture of Joseph Kony, it can never do enough to erase this unintended (I hope) impact.
Invisible to whom: these children have been very visible to their communities for years. After all, they’re somebody’s child, brother, sister, friend, niece, nephew, or neighbor. They’ve been visible to the shopkeepers and vendors in town who protected them. They’ve been visible to the family members who lost them and the community that cared for them. It’s because they’re so visible that Concerned Parents Association opened its doors in the 1990’s, after LRA abducted about 200 girls from a secondary school dormitory, to advocate for and bring to international light their plight. It’s because they’re visible that young people, including returnees from abductions, started Concerned Children and Youth Association. They’re visible to the people that matter, but apparently not to IC. The language we use in social change often denotes the approach we take, even if subconsciously. Since the children appear to be invisible to IC, then perhaps it’s clear why they’re represented as voiceless, dependent, and dis-empowered.
The dis-empowering and reductive narrative: the Invisible Children narrative on Uganda is one that paints the people as victims, lacking agency, voice, will, or power. It calls upon an external cadre of American students to liberate them by removing the bad guy who is causing their suffering. Well, this is a misrepresentation of the reality on the ground. Fortunately, there are plenty of examples of child and youth advocates who have been fighting to address the very issues at the heart of IC’s work. Want evidence? In addition to the organizations I list above, also look at Art for Children, Friends of Orphans, and Children Chance International. It doesn’t quiet match the victim narrative, does it? I understand that IC is a US-based organization working to change US policy. But, it doesn’t absolve it from the responsibility of telling a more complete story, one that shows the challenges and trials along side the strength, resilience, and transformational work of affected communities.
Revival of the White savior: if you have watched the Invisible Children video and followed the organization’s work in the past, you will note a certain messianic/savior undertone to it all. “I will do anything I can to stop him,” declares the founder in the video. It’s quite individualistic and reeks of the dated colonial views of Africa and Africans as helpless beings who need to be saved and civilized. Where in that video do you see the agency of Ugandans? Where in that Video do you see Jacob open his eyes wide at the mere possibility of his own strength, as Jennifer Lentfer of How Matters describes here? Can we point out the problem with having one child speak on the desires, dreams, and hopes of a whole nation? I don’t even want to mention the paternalistic tone with which Jacob and Uganda (when did it become part of central Africa by the way?) are described, not excluding the condescending use of subtitles for someone who is clearly speaking English.
How many times in history do we have to see this model to know that it doesn’t work? Even if IC succeeds in bringing about short-term change (i.e. increased awareness or even the killing of Kony) it won’t eliminate Northern Uganda’s problems overnight. It won’t heal and sustain communities. In this era of protest and the protester, we have seen that change is best achieved when it comes from within. Let Ugandans champion their own, IC!
Privilege of giving: that was quiet a 30-minute production? Where did they get the resources? How do they have that reach? Well, in the nonprofit world, the one thing that we have to learn, especially as Africans, is that privilege begets privilege. The IC video is another reminder of the ways in which privilege infiltrates the social justice world and determines the voices and organizations that are heard; simply those that can afford to be heard. There are several local organizations that could offer a nuanced and contextualized perspective on and solutions to the Northern Uganda conflict. They don’t have IC’s reach. They simple weren’t born into the world of financial, racial, social, and geopolitical privilege IC members are.
Lack of Africans in leadership: Invisible Children’s US staff is comprised exclusively of Americans, as is the entire Board. How do you represent Uganda and not have Ugandans in leadership? Couldn’t the organization find a single Ugandan? An African? Did it even think about that? Does that matter to current staff and board members? I understand that IC’s main audience is American and its focus is on American action. However, when your work and consequence affect a different group of people than your target audience, you must make it a priority to engage the voices of the affected population in a real and meaningful way, in places and spaces where programs are designed, strategies dissected, and decisions are made.
Clearly, I think people should work across borders to address global issues. Obviously, there is a role for Americans in this issue. The problem here is the lack of balance on who speaks for Uganda (and Africa) and how. We need approaches that are strategic and respectful of the local reality, that build on the action and desires of local activists and organizers, and act as partners and allies, not owners and drivers. When it comes to Africa, we have seen the IC approach play out time and time again, whether it was Ethiopia in the 1980s, Somalia in the early 2000s to date, Darfur in 2004, or now. History is on our side and it shows that these types of approaches often fail. At some point, we have to say enough is enough. Africans, raise your voice! Now and into the future.
I’ve been looking at the notes on that Rush Limbaugh post. I should have known all the white people would get at me with their “this is not about race!” if I reblogged something from stfuconservatives.
But, the most interesting attempt at derailing that I saw was a white person who said that it’s not because she’s white. It’s because it’s about birth control.
That’s interesting to me because the only reason birth control is a hot topic is because not even *white privilege* can help white women transcend the universal biological truths of being female bodied.
I mean look at the abortion debate. The biggest deal right now is that there is an invasive test done in a state if you elect to get an abortion.
I would think that the biggest deal should be affordability and access in general. But it’s not. Why? Because middle class white women don’t deal with those problems as highly as WOC do (this is also a classist movement).
Why isn’t pre-natal care discussed? WOC have infant/ prenatal mortality rates that exceed those of white women by FAR. But pre-natal care and infancy health is not a priority in the f*eminist movement. Wonder why?
Domestic violence and rape. Why is there so much emphasis on being called a slut? Why is a whole movements’ foundation literally the fact that a white man made fun of a white woman for how she dressed?
When WOC are beat, raped, killed at high rates… too high of rates… in America. Not because they were sluts or trying to be sluts. But because of their race in conjunction with other intersections that are highly predicated upon race (like poverty).
Regarding, the whole “she’s asking for it” thing… why don’t we discuss how folks think white women are asking for it when they dress in a certain way but folks think WOC are asking for it just because they’re WOC and that means exotic and over-sexualized in the media and less than.
Why is it that male violence is only expounded on when it is done by men of color? Are white men not violent? Or does that violence not matter? A rich white man can rape a poor black woman … leave his semen on her clothes … and get acquitted.
Why is it that when f*eminists discuss beauty and media representation it is like Miss. Representation… not about race at all. The media does not treat all women equally. And when I meet the woman who made that documentary in approx. 2 weeks (for my school’s Women’s History Month) I will ask her this very same question.
Why do people treat men of color like they are the most sexist men in this country when white men are the ones who have the power to institutionally enforce sexism? And run the media and present images of misogyny… both those directed at white women and WOC? And are in government right now telling women that they can’t control their own bodies?
Quite frankly, I’m just tired.
White feminism is a joke. It really is.
Ya’ll can hop on Rush now. But I was born knowing that he is hateful towards people who look like me. His racist career has lasted longer than my lifetime.
Danielle dropping some serious truth right now. Look at the BOLD.
i was going to say more, but i’m tired. i think that when a POC says something involves race, all us whites should stfu and listen. we don’t understand (and never will).
i think limbaugh is a jackass who hates everyone that isn’t a white male.
“If vaginas disgust you then you hate women. If vaginas don’t actually disgust you and you’re just doing it for comedic effect, stop. I’m not laughing about living in a culture that so devalues women’s bodies that the statistics for violence against women make me shudder. More importantly, I sure as shit can’t tell the difference between someone who hates women and someone who is just joking about it. No one is saying you have to go for a muff dive, but understanding and behaving as if women’s bodies are beautiful and valuable is simply the right thing to do.”—
I often hear the argument “Don’t tell women what not to wear, tell men not to rape.”
I think this is retarded.
People (yes people, it isn’t just men) who rape are not the kinds of people who work well with logic and reason. I mean, they’re fucking raping people. Telling a rapist not to rape is like telling a murderer not to murder. I think we could achieve much better results by teaching people how to 1. Avoid situations where rape is possible and 2. what to do in the event of someone trying to rape you.
Call me crazy but this sounds like a much more plausible solution than trying to talk it out with the nation’s rapists.
I’m ignoring most of the trash, but Mr. Kelly raises an important point (admittedly, it’s only by mistake)- why would telling criminals not to commit crime be different in the case of rape than it is in the case of homicide, or larceny?
The answer is that many rapists don’t understand that they are rapists. If you ask people, “have you ever raped someone,” the answer will overwhelmingly be in the negative. However, if you ask questions like, “Have you ever had sexual intercourse with someone who did not want you to because they were too intoxicated to resist?” or “Have you ever had intercourse with someone by force or threat of force?” then the answer drastically changes.
What does this mean about our “accidental” rapists?
a) The vast majority of acquaintance rapes are committed by the same people;
b) These people don’t see themselves as “rapists”;
c) They are, however, able recognize that they regularly threat, force, and intoxicate women in order to have sex with them.
When we say, “teach rapists not to rape,” we’re not saying to sit people down in a room, look them sternly in the face and say “do not rape anyone,” we’re advocating teaching people from a young age about the concept of consent, how important it as, and that any sexual interaction without consent is rape.
A political prisoner currently being held captive by the US government has been nominated for the next Nobel Peace Prize. Bradley Manning, an anti-war, pro- transparency activist was set to face capital charges by the United Stated Government after sharing evidence of misconduct and war crimes committed by the US. If you blow the whistle on mass-scale slaughter, rape, etc the united states may threaten or even attempt to kill you (in the name of freedom and goodwill, of course), but at least there’s someone out there who still realizes a good deed when it’s done.
Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull on Wednesday admitted to sending a racially charged email about President Barack Obama from his courthouse chambers.
Cebull, of Billings, was nominated by former President George W. Bush and received his commission in 2001 and has served as chief judge for the District of Montana since 2008.
The subject line of the email, which Cebull sent from his official courthouse email address on Feb. 20 at 3:42 p.m., reads: “A MOM’S MEMORY.”
The forwarded text reads as follow:
“Normally I don’t send or forward a lot of these, but even by my standards, it was a bit touching. I want all of my friends to feel what I felt when I read this. Hope it touches your heart like it did mine.
“A little boy said to his mother; ‘Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?’” the email joke reads. “His mother replied, ‘Don’t even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!’”
Cebull admitted Wednesday to sending the email to seven recipients, including his personal email address.
The judge acknowledged that the content of the email was racist, but said he does not consider himself racist. He said the email was intended to be a private communication.
“It was not intended by me in any way to become public,” Cebull said. “I apologize to anybody who is offended by it, and I can obviously understand why people would be offended.”
Cebull said his brother initially sent him the email, which he forwarded to six of his “old buddies” and acquaintances.
He admitted that he read the email and intended to send it to his friends.
“The only reason I can explain it to you is I am not a fan of our president, but this goes beyond not being a fan,” Cebull said. “I didn’t send it as racist, although that’s what it is. I sent it out because it’s anti-Obama.”
Yeah, Anti-Obama and Anti black/biracial.
You can’t even say you didn’t do it out of racism, BECAUSE IT’S BLATANTLY RACIST.
In just a few hours, new policies will take effect at Google, endangering your privacy.
Tech publication Gizmodo reports, “things you could do in relative anonymity today [like your web searches], will be explicitly associated with your name, your face, your phone number come March 1st.” And this applies retro-actively if you don’t act today.
What HB2675 will do: Mandate that university students without a national merit scholarship or an athletic scholarship to pay a $2,000 tuition payment out of pocket. This will exempt all scholarships, grants, and forms of financial aid.
Again, AZ seems to be a pro in setting bad examples for other states.
I know I’ve posted this a bunch of times already, but this is really important to me. I want to be able to stay in school next year- education is literally my everything right now, and I don’t know what I would do without school.
If you live in AZ (I know some of you do!) please contact the legislature. Calling them and talking in an obnoxiously sweet phone voice seems to work. Shoot them an e-mail, too! Contact info for the AZ legislature can be found here.
Many of you don’t live in AZ (or the US), but please, every signature counts!
I’m sorry I’ve flooded your dashboards with this so many times, but please, any signatures will help.
Thank you to everybody who’s already signed it, and I love you guys oodles. :)
And when you click the link to sign (Which I know you will!) be sure and read the “Why This is Important Part” and see what the smarmy Republicans had to say about the cost of education. After reading that, you’ll wish you could sign it 100 times!
I pushed it to 575… let’s get to 1,000 and beyond! SIGNAL BOOST!
It’s at 1100 now but it should be much higher. Look what the representative who introduced the bill had to say:
Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said students should have some “skin in the game.” He said students will take their schooling more seriously and be less likely to drop out if they have made an investment.
“I really believe that when something is given to you, you don’t have the appreciation of having put in some work,” agreed Rep. John Fillmore, R-Apache Junction.
He said $2,000 out of $9,000 annual tuition is not that big a deal. Even with books and fees, Kavanagh said that adds only another $1,500 a year.
Kavanagh said that would leave students with $14,000 debt after four years, “less than the cost of a Chevy Sonic.”
“And I personally believe that degrees from our universities are worth far more than Chevy Sonics,” he said. Anyway, Kavanagh said that is a small amount, as college grads earn anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million more over their lifetimes than those who do not have a higher education.
You hear that, folks? Paying an extra $2,000 out of pocket is less than a new car! And who out there can’t afford a new car?
This is absolutely disgusting and just another example in a big pile of evidence regarding how the Republicans want to keep poor people uneducated and poor.
JB: I think you should mention how I dont like men being called feminists. me: Yeah? JB: How that’s just what guys should be. Calling a guy a feminist is wrong. me: I know guys who call themselves feminists. JB: A “feminist” guy is what a normal guy should be considered, but because guys are now supposed to be dicks and treat everyone like shit, now the nice guys have to be labeled as something. I’m just a guy. I’m what a guy should be. I love and respect women. I treat them as equals. That’s a man. A guy who treats women like shit is just that, he is not a man.
missing the point.
yes, yes. this is how it should be. everyone should be on equal terms. but that is not how it is and thus, that’s how feminism was borne into the world and that’s why it’s still relevant.
but the bigger point you’re missing is saying that a guy calling himself a feminist, or anyone labeling themselves a feminist, does so because of guys being assholes on a personal (presumably romantic-relationship) level. feminism is about gender-equality on an institutional level. yes, patriarchy and misogyny being an institutionalized norm effects things on an intra-personal level. but no one calls themselves a feminist because of these intra-personal levels. we’re feminists because everywhere you look, institutionally things are not equal. womyn make less money than men doing the same exact job. womyn with PhDs in their field make as much as men with only Masters degrees. professions considered “womyn’s work” are undervalued and not given the same benefits. institutionally, womyn are underrepresented in maths, sciences, and engineering. things like rape, sexual assault, domestic violence are overwhelmingly committed by men against womyn. and a million other points i’ve missed.
no one calling themselves a feminist is doing so because we’re sick of all the individual guys who have been an asshole to us, from verbal assaults and supposed jokes to abuse and assault. i was a feminist long before some jackass tried to rape me. we are feminists because institutionally this kind of behavior is deemed acceptable ‘boys will be boys’ behavior. because systematically, males are given a pass and not held accountable for their offensive, disrespectful towards womyn. no one calls themselves a feminist because we want ladies to know that if they choose to date us or be around us, we’re going to behave like a decent human-being. we call ourselves feminists to let everyone know we know the way things operate now is bullshit, and womyn deserve much, much better.
all of these fucking posts—from males and females—about being better than feminism, that there’s absolutely no need to call yourself a feminist because people are people, you’re a ‘humanist’, are bullshit. you’re assuming that institutionally/systematically things are equal (which they are not) and you’re assuming that feminism is about all of these personal interactions that directly effect womyn (which it is not). as feminists, we believe in gender equality in all aspects of life; so, we will treat those deserving with respect regardless of gender or sex. (what all these fucking ‘humanists’ believe in). but then we will get over ourselves and fight against something much bigger, and fight against things that may not be directly effecting us.
so, men and womyn who call themselves feminists, that’s what they’re saying and that’s why.
“Basically, I am sick of the ignorance, hatred and all the bullshit. The truth that someone is gay is as odd as the fact that someone is straight. It is what it is, there’s nothing new about homosexuality and these people either need to evolve or get the fuck out of the way. If they want to hate, fine but they will have to keep it to themselves or expect complete turbulence from me. It’s insane to me that someone has that kind of time in their day to hate someone for what they can’t help and for what there is absolutely nothing wrong with.”—Henry Rollins (via consciousbeing)
One of the great things about Tumblr is that people use it for just about every conceivable kind of expression. People being people, though, that means that Tumblr sometimes gets used for things that are just wrong. We are deeply committed to supporting and defending our users’ freedom of speech, but we do draw some limits. As a company, we’ve decided that some specific kinds of content aren’t welcome on Tumblr. For example, we prohibit spam and identity theft.
Our Content Policy has not, until now, prohibited blogs that actively promote self-harm. These typically take the form of blogs that glorify or promote anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders; self-mutilation; or suicide. These are messages and points of view that we strongly oppose, and don’t want to be hosting. The question for us has been whether it’s better to (a) prohibit them, as a statement against the very ideas of self-harm that they are advancing, or (b) permit them to stay up, accompanied by a public service warning that directs readers to helplines run by organizations like the National Eating Disorders Association.
We are planning to post a new, revised Content Policy in the very near future, and we’d like to ask for input from the Tumblr community on this issue.
Here’s what we think the right answer is:
1. Implement a new policy against pro-self-harm blogs. Here’s draft language we are planning to add to our Content Policy:
Active Promotion of Self-Harm. Don’t post content that actively promotes or glorifies self-injury or self-harm. This includes content that urges or encourages readers to cut or mutilate themselves; embrace anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders; or commit suicide rather than, e.g., seek counseling or treatment for depression or other disorders. Online dialogue about these acts and conditions is incredibly important; this prohibition is intended to reach only those blogs that cross the line into active promotion or glorification. For example, joking that you need to starve yourself after Thanksgiving or that you wanted to kill yourself after a humiliating date is fine, but recommending techniques for self-starvation or self-mutilation is not.
We aim to begin implementing this policy next week. Of course, we will allow any affected blogs a grace period in which to edit or download your content.
2. Start showing PSAs on search results for related keywords. In addition, we plan to start posting “public service announcement”-style language whenever users search for tags that typically go along with pro-self-harm blogs. For example, when a user searches for tags like “anorexia”, “anorexic”, “bulimia”, “bulimic”, “thinspiration”, “thinspo”, “proana”, “purge”, “purging”, etc., we would show PSA language like:
Eating disorders can cause serious health problems, and at their most severe can even be life-threatening. Please contact the [resource organization] at [helpline number] or [website].
So that’s our plan. We’d like your feedback. If you have any comments or suggestions, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Part of me thinks it’s too soon to be writing about this because I don’t think I’ve completely processed how I feel, but I also think maybe this has happened to other women and I should talk about it in as raw a way as possible. I’m still really embarrassed and ashamed and garbled up inside, but maybe this can start a helpful discussion in terms of women and comedy.
Last night, I was on a stand up show in the East Village. The show started out with a small crowd and the host did an amazing job interacting with them and riling them up. By the time I got on stage, there were about 20 or so more people in the audience and the place had really filled up. The show was still kind of loose because of the back and forth between the host and the audience, so when I got on stage, I riffed a bit about the stuff that had happened before and then talked to one guy on the side of the audience who the host had dubbed “Banana Republic.” All joke-y. All in good fun.
Then, I start my actual set and do my first two jokes, which go pretty okay. I start another joke that is vaguely sexual - not crude, not crass - mainly silly and that goes well too. The next joke I do is about my boyfriend.
At a comedy show, when you’re on stage, usually you can’t see the audience because of the bright lights. So I’m looking into pitch darkness. As I start the joke, someone yells, “Does your boyfriend know?” referring to the sexuality joke I’d just told. I stop, laugh and say that he does because I think it’s just more of the loose environment that’s been going on at this show. I attribute it to an audience member just having fun.
I start to tell the joke about my boyfriend again, and at the midway point, the same voice yells something else derogatory about my boyfriend, homophobic and misogynistic towards me. I stop, confused. I can’t see who is talking to me so I make a HUGE mistake and say, “Sir, if you’re gonna talk to me, you need to come to the front because I can’t see you.” I think calling him out like this will shut him up.
There’s way too much money in American politics. It’s drowning out people’s voices, especially since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision gave corporations the green light to spend limitless sums of money to influence our elections. We are building a movement of engaged citizens and responsible business leaders working together to oppose this decision and Get the Dough Out of Politics. Our goal is to take back American democracy, and over-rule the Supreme Court, with a Constitutional Amendment that will keep corporate money out of our elections.
Ben & Jerry’s launched a petition to get money out of politics, justifying the many dollars lost and pounds gained while stuffing my gullet with their sweet, sweet confections.