Are We Only Seeing & Reading the “Single Story” about Africa?

I recently watched a TED Talk by Chimamanda Adichie, The Danger of a Single Story and it occurred to me that when we watch the KONY 2012 video we are only hearing a single story. We see the story of the poor and victimized, but we fail to see the stories of the ones who fight back, who have overcome.  As Americans, we fail to see the stories of the middle class Ugandans who are striking because of bad banking practices. Have we heard about the Ugandans who are fighting anti-gay laws?

We only see the victims and feel the “white man’s burden” when we hear stories about children who were victims.  Yes, it is a tragedy that this happens, but it isn’t the only thing happening in Uganda.  Adichie makes a good point when she says, “The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but they are incomplete.” The story of Kony and child soldiers is incomplete.  The video doesn’t tell us that Kony was run out of Uganda and his forces have been reduced in size.  Children live on the streets all over the world and are forced into slavery and the sex trade in every country.

Awareness is important. Until recently I had no idea that Atlanta is one of the top cities for child exploitation and sex trafficking.  I saw a video, “The Candy Shop,”  that made me aware of a problem happening in my hometown.

This film is being made for the Doorpost Film Project, and with support from 12Stone® Church and Street Grace. The Candy Shop is a Fairytale/Parable about the child sex trafficking epidemic that has overrun our city of Atlanta. We are using the film to not only raise awareness but provoke meaningful action towards this issue taking place in our own backyard.

Up to 500 underaged girls a month are trafficked for sex here in our city of Atlanta. It’s the number one city in the country for child sex trafficking. The 10th in the world.

 I appreciate that not only are they bringing awareness to the problem, but they are work with community groups who offer services for victims. Street GRACE offers support for these groups who serve at-risk children and rehabilitation for those rescued from a horrific life.  They see that there is a need to support groups who offer resources for victims instead of duplicating the resources.
I’m not against what Invisible Children is doing with their Kony 2012 campaign.  However, I’m asking people to find the rest of the story. Don’t settle for the single story and base opinions on that alone.  Find out about the real people behind the story, like this man, a Ugandan who works with the African Youth Initiative to support victims of Kony.  He writes, “Rebuilding communities and rehabilitating victims’ is what we need. The stronger survivors become, the less Kony remains  an issue. Restoration of communities devastated by Kony is a greater priority than catching or even killing him.”  

Isn’t that really what it is all about? Shouldn’t we focus on supporting communities and people who have suffered? Sure, we all want Kony to pay for what he did, but we need to listen to the other stories, the ones of those who lived it and experienced the violence. My opinion is that if we are going to send our money to someone, it should be them. We should support their choice to live.

 

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