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Is Invisible Children’s “Stop Kony” video the best philanthropically branded scam since TOMS shoes?

Invisible Children Founders pose with guns

First, organizations like Invisible Children not only take up resources that could be used to fund more intelligent advocacy, they take up rhetorical space that could be used to develop more intelligent advocacy.... And while we’re on the subject of what does and doesn’t help, maybe don’t get photographed fondling big (former) rebel guns. Just saying. - Wronging Rights

As you can guess, the whole “Stop Kony” viral wave pushed some of my buttons. I wish I could say my hesitance with the bandwagon was because of the education I’ve gained while supporting non-profits that are working in Uganda but I’m afraid the bulk of my skepticism was more likely motivated by how little credit I give to the specific friends who first FB’d the video. Sorry guys, but telling me you’ve been moved to tears because your teen (the same teen you’ve described as a slug for the last 4 years) has been inspired to change the world and now the two of you are retweeting a video like mofos, kinda suggests that you can’t find Africa on a map.

Anywho, I opted not to retweet / share / poke or call the Boulder City Council to take action, until I did a little research on my own, and now I’m ready to dive into the social media chatter.

Just for the record, I’m talking about FB friends you don’t know…I swear I’m not talking about you or your fabulous kid.

Kony 2012 Poster -

I would understand if this were the 1990s or even the early 2000s when the misery plaguing northern Uganda flew completely under the radar. I would understand if this campaign was about the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But a campaign in 2012, premised on Joseph Kony not being famous enough is just folly. - Justice In Conflict

By my second google (the first being, “Invisible Children, legit or ridiculous white guys selling t-shirts?” didn’t get me very far) I found the peace my soul was hoping to find. I actually had a clue and wasn’t simply reacting to my distaste for over-indulgent moms – yeaa for my philanthropic spirit! I was justified in my belief that the only way the international community can be involved in stopping this crisis is to support the local efforts…and for Christ’s sake, will someone please empower the African women with all decision making for the next 60 years??!!!

One last preface before I send you off to read all of my links – I am AMAZED by the speed at which this information flew around the world and I LOVE that people’s passion for this very serious issue was sparked into action within hours! Seriously, I cannot wait to see this type of viral power used for something I truly believe in. Let me know your thoughts, especially if you think I’m wrong…I sincerely want to see the good in this organization.

If nothing else please read the following links before buying the Invisible Children Action Kit (complete with bracelet!).

“Why make Kony the be-all end-all focus of the campaign? As Larok told the Guardian, “If the Americans had wanted to arrest him, they would have done that a long time ago.” His army doesn’t actually have 30,000 “mindless child soldiers” — Wilkerson explained that the figure actually refers to the total number of kids abducted by the LRA over nearly 30 years — and Northern Uganda has been doing much better in the six years of peace since the LRA left” – Jezebel – Kony 2012 Group Responds to Increasing Criticism.

“They are, in actuality, selling themselves as the issue, as the subject, as the panacea for everything that ails me as the agency-devoid African. All I have to do is show up in my broken English, look pathetic and wanting. You, my dear social media savvy click-activist, will shed a tear, exhaust Facebook’s like button, mobilize your cadre of equally ill-uninformed netizens to throw money at the problem.”Project Diaspora

“People who have lived there for years, bona fide aid workers who have studied foreign policy and other relevant fields like public health, who are really there because they are trying to solve problems — they see Invisible Children as trying to promote themselves and a version of the narrative.”  Invisible Children Founders Pose With Guns: an interview with the photographer – Washington Post

“On its face, it’s eerily reminiscent of previous Africa advocacy movements, such as “Save Darfur” in its early days: grand public launches, with minimal partnership and little substance. Dangerous. Whether they meant it to or not, whatever the intentions, it ends up looking like yet another Western campaign to help Africans who can’t help themselves. Africa can’t be handled that way anymore.” Joseph Kony 2012: “It’s fine to ‘Stop Kony’ and LRA. But Learn to Respect Africans. -written by Semhar Araia for The Christian Science Monitor

“It is hard to respect any documentary on northern Uganda where a five year-old white boy features more prominently than any northern Ugandan victim or survivor. Incredibly, with the exception of the adolescent northern Ugandan victim, Jacob, the voices of northern Ugandans go almost completely unheard”. Taking ‘Kony 2012’ Down A Notch – Justice In Conflict

Thanks for reading!