On charity and privilege
5- The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege.
— Teju Cole (@tejucole) March 8, 2012
This is something I wrestle with when I do things like volunteer with St. Bernard Project and the like. Be cognizant that you are:
- not eliminating jobs by doing work for free;
- seeing the folks you are helping as people who are capable and possess agency;
- not falling into established narratives that no longer reflect the current situation or that rely on long-standing stereotypes; and
- helping people as directly as possible and not just throwing money at organizations. Where and how does the organization spend it once it gets it?
This, of course, is related to the Kony 2012 project by Invisible Children, (view Tweets), which aims to
raise awareness and contact influencers to pressure the U.S. to get Joseph Koney and the Lord’s Resistance Army out of Uganda … except, um, that Kony isn’t in Uganda anymore.
There’s also the troubling fact that Invisible Children’s mission is mostly to tell stories and raise money to tell more stories. Think about that. Is the work they’re doing really leading to substantive change? Is the story they’re telling actually an accurate narrative about what’s happening in Uganda?
More about the Kony 2012 controversy
- #Kony2012: Invisible Childrenâ€™s viral video on Uganda conflict sparks inspiration and outrage from Yahoo! News’ The Envoy blog
- Invisible Children‘s Charity Navigator profile.
- An Evaluation Of Invisible Childrenâ€™s KONY2012 Campaign from Thought Catalog
- On Invisible Childrenâ€™s Kony 2012 Campaign
- Respect My Agency from TMS Ruge on Project Diaspora
- what causes badvocacy? a 2009 post from Texas in Africa
- Why You Should Not Donate To Invisible Children/Kony 2012 by journalist Hugo Odoherty
- Acholi Street. Stop #Kony2012. Invisible Childrenâ€™s campaign of infamy by Angelo Opi-Aiya Izama
- Kony2012; My response to Invisible Children’s campaign from Ugandan journalist Rose Bell Kagumire
- The Soft Bigotry of Kony 2012 from The Atlantic
- Obama Takes on the LRA a November 2011 piece from Foreign Policy