Summary: This clip comes from the creators of Radi-Aid, which is a group that seeks to draw attention to the problematic ways charity media campaigns often represent aid recipients from Africa. As was vividly Illustrated by Invisible Children's Kony 2012 campaign, many charity and relief organizations manufacture images of Africa that foreground extreme instances of poverty and dependency. Images of malnourished children and primitive housing are propped up as the monolithic representations of the entire African continent, and more often than not, a white Western aid worker is shown interacting with black, African children, delivering her compassion with a warm embrace. The above video begins with what seems to be a poor black child walking along a rural dirt road, At first, it appears to be just another fundraising video, but then a director yells "Cut!" The child is revealed as an actor, and soon it becomes clear the video is actually a spoof of the fundraising campaigns aimed at a saving Africa. All joking aside, the video works quite well as a means of drawing attention to the fact that when well-meaning charity campaigns deploy stereotypical imagery to gain the sympathy of Western audiences, they may be doing more harm than good to the African communities they depict. Organizations like Invisible Children claim to be concerned about the well being of millions of Africans, but it is arguably just as important to consider the message these campaigns promote to millions of people in the West. To be blunt, the images of starving and dependent Africans in these fundraising campaigns may trigger sympathy and donations, but the campaigns do not cast the Africans they claim to represent in a dignified light and leave viewers with a lasting impression that Africans lack agency. In contrast, whites are depicted in the campaigns as compassionate saviors, and as I wrote in an earlier post, it is truly an unearned privilege for Western whites "to be able to wade through the media pool each day, soaked by the various incarnations of this narrative, a day full of subtle reminders of one's intrinsic goodness and extraordinary abilities."
Submitted By: Lester Andrist