As of right now, I have remained a sideline observer of the Kony 2012 initiative. I have read countless facebook status updates, tweets, and quite a few articles from everything from news sites to blogs on Invisible Children and the make Kony famous initiative. I have been apprehensive about deciding whether I am for or against Kony 2012 for a few reasons, most of which are about the racial issues about it.
A few of my concerns are highlighted in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=KLVY5jBnD-E
Although it is only one person’s review of the Kony 2012 video, I think that it is worthwhile to consider. Rosebell speaks about White Western intervention in Africa as a recurring narrative. This idea of White people helping out people of color goes back to colonial times. It is reminiscent of the White Man’s Burden.
On the first day of class, Connie brought up one of the racial “zeitgeists” of the past, where White people feel that they need to reach down and help the poor Black people. Some people might ask what is wrong with helping people. Agency is a huge part of what is problematic about “helping” people. In the Kony 2012 video, a White male is telling Jacob’s story. Jacob is stripped of the opportunity to tell his own story. This is concerning, because it reinforces the idea that the Western people are saviors, while at the same time keeping the Northern Ugandans as inferior. It does not give the Northern Ugandans the opportunity to help themselves.
“If you are showing me as voiceless, as hopeless, you have no space telling my story—You shouldn’t be telling my story.” Rosebell
This begs the question, who is allowed to tell the story? How do we offer help without taking away agency? Do we have the right to intervene?
I urge all who are interested in Kony 2012 to do more research than just watching the Kony 2012 video. The situation in Uganda is far more complex than a 30 minute video allows. There is no denying that Joseph Kony has committed atrocities, but what our roles as outsiders (especially in America) are, if we have any role, is very unclear.