It looks like March 2012 is the month of the Great White Hope. It seems as though all month, I’ve been having conversations about the difficulties I’m having with approaches of some organizations and people to development in “third-world” countries and neighborhoods. To me, these approaches feel like the beginning of Things Fall Apart. It’s like: “Hey guys! Remember that time we colonized brown people? That was awesome! Let’s do that again! Except this time lets use N.G.Os!”
The thing is, “using an asset based approach” has become jargon in the non-profit/n.g.o. sector but to quote Mad Men’s Bobbie Barrett, it’s powerful business when done correctly. I’m supposed to be writing a paper so I’ll keep this short but please read this post about shitty organization that I shall not name on the daily what, it sums up my feelings perfectly. Money quotes:
By now it should be abundantly clear that %^&* 2012 doesn’t offer a single enduring solution to any of the problems it pretends to want to fix. At the very least, it makes things worse.
At the very most, it makes things much worse. But beyond the reasons why lies a simple truth: Lasting change — the kind that makes people’s lives truly better — doesn’t come from awareness, or even from doing something: It comes from doing what needs to be done. And knowing what that is requires paying attention, listening to the victims, and understanding the whole story.
Jason Russell told the New York Times, “No one wants a boring documentary on Africa. Maybe we have to make it pop, and we have to make it cool. We view ourself as the Pixar of human rights stories.”
That’s great, except Africa is not a feel-good animated feature for the whole family. It is a real place with real people who would suffer real consequences if KONY 2012 succeeded in convincing well-meaning individuals that all it needs for a happy ending is to catch the “bad guy” with the help of American soldiers.
Africans deserve better than to be treated like two-dimensional Wacom sketches by a group of sensationalist jet-setters who — by their own admission — oversimplify the issues to sell their cause (and their bracelets).
The people of Africa — nay, the people of everywhere — deserve real, long-lasting solutions; not quick-fix half-remedies that look good on Facebook.*
Yes. and Thank you.