The success of the Kony 2012 campaign against Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony of Uganda is forcing to the surface some uneasy questions about race, political organizing and the Internet, Jamilah King writes in a blog entry at ColorLines. Despite its success, the campaign is taking heat for portraying Africans as victims whose only hope lies in the actions — and wallets — of white saviors.
U.S.-based non-profit Invisible Children responded directly on Monday to criticism over its widely popular Kony 2012 campaign, a viral video that has drawn tens of millions of viewers and major celebrity endorsements. However, despite the group’s best efforts, the campaign is still taking heat over its portrayal of Africans as victims whose only hope lay in the actions — and wallets — of white saviors. And critics say it’s that centuries-old narrative that’s in part responsible for the campaign’s viral success.
In a video that clocks in at just over eight minutes, Invisible Children’s CEO Ben Keesey attempted to reinforce his organization’s commitment to ending political unrest in Uganda.
“I understand why people are wondering is this is just some slick, kind of fly-by-night slacktivist thing,” Keesey says in the video, “when actually it’s not at all … It’s connected to a really deep, thoughtful, very intentional and strategic campaign.”
Kony 2012 launched on March 5 as an experiment with a seemingly simple goal: to make Joseph Kony, leader of Ugandan rebel group the Lord Resistance Army (LRA), famous. Kony, who’s widely considered an international war criminal responsible for hundreds of thousands of murders, kidnappings, and rapes, has been active at least since 1986 but has gone largely unnoticed by the U.S. public. Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 campaign aimed to change that with the launch of its ambitious multimedia push.
Read Jamilah King's entire blog entry at ColorLines.