It infuriates me to the point of exhaustion and pure frustration when campaigns such the one that Invisible Children is running develop legs and become popular. In this instance, they’ve put up a 27 minute video about the evils of Joseph Kony. If the name isn’t familiar, he’s a piece of crap from Uganda who has been using child soldiers to fight wars and has been indicted by the International Criminal Court on a slew of serious war crimes.
Of course none of that matters really because a group of whiteys from the US decided to make a little film to raise awareness about Joseph Kony. I’ve watched said film and it’s painful. It’s like a “Have you seen this warlord?” campaign on a milk carton in case you happen to spot him in the parking lot while picking up that weeks groceries. “Oh, but they’re just trying to do good in the world.” Not really. They feel guilt for being white, privileged to some degree, and being from the US and thus needing to create a non-profit that pretty much just “raises awareness” and does little else. There is no state building mechanism in what they do and if there were at some point, the citizens of whatever state they were working to fix should move to a neighboring one as these guys are typical of Whites in Shining Armor. I can’t even get in to all the details of this lest I write through the night. But, it’s simple: white people in the US donate to make themselves feel better. They don’t give a damn about the recipients as long as they get a newsletter with smiling dark-skinned children that shows their money “at work”.
Why would I say this about Invisible Children? Watch the video. Pay attention to how the narrator has made himself and family the real focus of the video from the beginning. Pay attention to how the narrator interacts with the Africans. He always talks down to them as if they were children, no matter their age. Pay attention to key phrases such as “something in my heart told me”. All of this comes up time and again when you’re dealing with white people from the US and their approach to Africa. There is no sense of equality, only of being a savior.
What gives me the right to criticize them, after all, they’re “doing something”, right? My right to criticize is the same as their right to make this in the first place. But, people need to understand that just “doing something” is the worst thing you can possibly do. Would you “just build a skyscraper”? Would you “just perform open heart surgery”? Obviously not, so why on earth are Americans “just doing something” when it comes to Africa? We have no business doing this. Our business should be first in foremost to fix both our local and national problems. For instance, the narrator is shocked to see all these homeless children in Uganda. Um, they’re in the US too. We’ve some really serious problems.
All of this, to use the skyscraper analogy is like deciding to build a 50 story building. One day, you run down to a random building site you know nothing about. You dump money there. You work on it over a three day weekend, or even a summer, then run off. A year later, you’re shocked that it never got finished. It’s a horrible approach to everything charity-related and the fact that the vast majority of people can’t see this makes me numb.
Absolutely no problem that faces the world today has an immediate fix. The work is long term, hard, and a hell of a lot more invested than retweeting a YouTube link.