Editor's Corner

This section is devoted to articles which I really feel passionate about. It might not be daily or even weekly that something would be posted here, but just know that when it does you should definitely read it!

So about this KONY 2012 VIDEO


I’m sure if you have more than 1 friend on Facebook, more than 2 followers on Twitter and have come to the realization that MySpace is no longer relevant, then you have also seen or heard of the KONY 2012 campaign and video. This approx. 30 minute video was created by Jason Russell, filmmaker, for the Invisible Children movement. Now this particular entry is not focused directly on the “Invisible Children” movement per say, so if you don’t know what the group is about check out their website http://www.invisiblechildren.com/ (yes this is where you do a little research on your own)

My focus is about the KONY 2012 video. While I want to see a terrorist captured and penalized for his actions like the next person, I also want to make sure that when I'm against something, or someone for that matter, I learn more about the person. Think about Jesus for example (not that I’m comparing Kony to Jesus, please people) many of the people who wanted him to be crucified didn’t know why. They followed who they thought had their best interest and acted as they saw fit without really learning about the goodness of Jesus. (Steps away from the pulpit)  Now getting back to my point, Joseph Kony who now has become a household name and is still garnering fame, is head of the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army). The video’s purpose was to “dramatically increase awareness about a jungle militia leader who is wanted for atrocities by the International Criminal Court and is being hunted by 100 US special forces and local troops in four Central African countries.” Well the video did get one aspect right, Kony is one of the first people indicted by the ICC and has been evading capture since 2005 and also that they were successful in increasing awareness.

Now I want to focus on the inaccuracies of the KONY 2012 video that shouldn’t go unrecognized. The video portrays Kony as a current threat to Uganda, where in fact, the LRA is no longer in Uganda but has been spread out to Congo, the Central African Republic and South Sudan. His forces, once thousands strong (as the video depicts) has been so degraded that the Ugandan military no longer considers him a threat to the region. By degraded, I mean the LRA now has only about 250 fighters unlike the vast amount the video depicts. In fact the bigger threat to Uganda is the Al Qaeda terrorist group which has been expanding in Uganda since 2010.

The LRA was formed back in 1987 and I would recommend that you do your research as well on the history of the LRA. Yes the group has done some unspeakable things and as I stated Kony should be punished for these actions, so I am not disagreeing with his capture and I don't want to discredit the Invisible Children's purpose in making him a celebrity. What I am doing, however, is questioning the means to which the “Invisible Children” charity is playing off of our emotions to garner funding. The problem is “that by focusing so much attention on a fading warlord, the Kony 2012 movement is diverting millions of dollars away from charities working to stamp out starvation in the Horn of Africa, slow the spread of AIDS or battle widespread corruption -- all issues that affect far more Africans than a single warlord.”  

Foreign Affairs magazine accused the group of exaggerating and manipulating facts surrounding Kony and the LRA to over-emphasize the scale of the abductions and murders committed. The videos edited together in the final campaign “Kony 2012” video were clips taken as far back as 2003 to 2008 during the height of the murders and child abductions of the LRA, so to use them as a “current” view of what is going on is misleading and irresponsible; unless of course your purpose is to raise money, then it would make since to pull at the heart strings i.e. Sarah Mclachlan's SPCA commercial. Are we fundraising to help a cause or selling "action kits" and "marketing campaigns"? 

Keep this in mind, as international aid groups go, Invisible Children spends a huge portion of its donations on overhead. Last year, the group raised about $8.7 million but only 37 percent, about $3.3 million, went to support programs in central Africa. The group has been criticized by the charitable arm of the Better Business Bureau for not responding to a request for information, which seems like a red flag to me (sketchy much?) Charity Navigator, a nonprofit watchdog that rates charitable organizations, gave the group two out of four stars for financial transparency because its ledgers aren't audited by an independent committee.

Invisible Children posted rebuttals to the criticism on its website, saying that it has spent about 80 percent of its funds on programs that further its mission, about 16 percent on administration and management, and about 3 percent on fundraising. The group said its accountability and transparency score is currently low because it has four independent voting members on its board of directors and not five, but that it is seeking to add a fifth; Because that it the real reason (sarcasm) for a low transparency score, give me a break.  So for a group of filmmakers looking for a way to find success, they have achieved just that. Yes their cause is legitimate but the means of execution is what is in question. Why should I send money if most of it will not ever go to the cause. This is the reason people have been cautious of giving [money] to causes.

The group has also succeeded in garnering support by some famous celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, Rihanna and the Kardashians (because when we think of morals and ethics we think of Kim Kardashian) to name a few. This only adds to the popularity of the Kony 2012's movement. “If these important figures believe in it maybe I should too” has probably come up in many pop cultured Americans. Sad but true.

In conclusion I leave you with this video that breaks down the financial aspect of the Invisible Children’s charity and makes you question the validity of its motives. After all my research, I have come to the conclusion that I will not go through the Invisible Children charity to make my monetary support, I will no longer be buying the “action kit” which currently is sold out (go figure) and I definitely won't be sharing the KONY 2012 propaganda video anymore, but of course you make your own decision about it…because THAT guy said it!

          The month of February brings many celebrations: Groundhog’s Day, Valentine ’s Day and President’s Day, to name a few. But it’s the acknowledgment of Black History Month that really deserves some attention. I’ve noticed in my [not so] many years of living, that Black History Month tends to evoke celebration one of two ways: by traveling to Atlanta, Birmingham or any other historically relevant city during and before the civil rights moments or being acknowledged by students of all grade levels. So if you're no longer in school and don’t plan on traveling to Atlanta, GA or Washington D.C. to visit the Martin Luther King Memorial, how will you honor and show respect for all of the African Americans who’ve helped build and improve this wonderful country we call USA? Well you might not have to go as far as you think; history might be right in your back yard. Now I admit, I’ve been a victim of letting this short month pass me by without showing my full respect, but this year was different. I had the privilege of joining a wonderful group of people called the “Do the Local Motion Tampa Bay" who conducts twice monthly walks around different areas in Tampa, FL.

          This month in recognition of Black History Month, we took a walk through downtown Tampa and visited a few significant places that provided a time stamp, if you will, of a period I am all too familiar with but never had to live through; a period of segregation and inequality, a time when the color of your skin was more important than the content of your character. After joining up at Franklin and Madison (and stocking up on 5 hour energy drinks), it was off to our first stop. We met up with a phenomenal poet by the name of James Tokley, the City of Tampa’s first official Poet Laureate. We met him at Joe Chillura Square, where one of his poems is currently located at the base of the Freedom statue. James is a very influential, intelligent and creative poet with a great sense of humor, check out this short clip of him:

          The poem he recited to the crowd was titled “Freedom” and oh how important were its verses. He can also be found in the Guinness Book of Records for having the largest poem ever produced and posted in the history of the world at 65 feet tall and 45 feet across, aptly named “Leviathan”.  

          Next stop took us to a home located at 851 E Zack St. Now this was no ordinary home, and the people who once graced its presence were nothing short of significant. Important African American people such as Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, Dr. Martin Luther King and even Ella Fitzgerald, who composed the song “A Tisket a Tasket” at the piano right in the living room. This home was built before 1900 and over time became a main place for African American performers and speakers to stay while performing in Tampa, because the hotels would not allow them to occupy a room. It was a tough time for African Americans back then, but at least this house served as a haven.
          We were greeted by the current home owner, Mr. Willie Robinson Jr., who inherited it from his mother, Sarah Jackson, in 2006. The “Jackson House”, as it has come to be known, is a part of black history and I am proud to say a part of Tampa’s as well. Mr. Robinson showed us pictures of his family, gave us a bit of history about the house, including how it still has the original Thomas Edison electrical fixtures throughout its 24 rooms.

For more about The Jackson House visit: http://www.tampabay.com/news/humaninterest/article1184104.ece
          Of all the years I've lived in Tampa, not once had I known this house existed and I am thankful I had the opportunity to visit. We said our goodbyes to Mr. Robinson and continued our hike to the corner of Franklin & Polk where the old F.W.Woolworth building stands, in the heart of downtown Tampa.  Here we met up with 2 important African American men, Mr. Fred Hearns and Mr. Myron Jackson.

          Mr. Fred Hearns gave the historical significance of F.W. Woolworth’s relevance to the civil rights movement, explaining how one of the first “sit-ins” took place in a Woolworths in Alabama but also a large sit-in took place right in Tampa at that very Woolworths. Now it wasn’t a violent sit-in, unlike other places, but it was an important and necessary step or “sit” if you will, towards equality. 

          Mr. Myron graced us with a wonderfully written poem which metaphorically  compared  equality to food. He sated “As you can tell I love to eat” and “I never discriminate with food”. He was pleasantly insightful and found a way with every verse to make us laugh yet teach us a lesson in the process. This walk was so much more than physical, it was an emotional and inspirational journey through history  and I'm glad I was a part of it! So make sure you take some time to honor Black History this month; check your town or city because you might be standing (or sitting) on a piece of black history as we speak.
For information about tours go to www.dothelocalmotiontampabay.com or call the Tampa Downtown Partnership at (813) 221-3686.
Myron Jackson will be conducting a poetry program on 2/26/2012 from 2:00 PM til 3:00 PM at the North Tampa Library’s Community Room. If you are in the Tampa Area, come out and enjoy some wonderful poetry by Mr. Jackson (free of charge!).  He has written and performed poetry since 1972. His style was influenced by artists that exhibited social consciousness through written literature and folk music. Initially, it was the work of Paul Lawrence Dunbar, the Harlem Renaissance, Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Dubois and the Beat Poets of the 50’s. His 1960’s influences include Gil-Scott Heron, The Last Poets, Haki Mahubuti, Gwen Brooks and Nikki Giovanni. His original works address social issues, satire, history and fiction. Jackson has more than 30 year’s professional experience as a poet, drummer, and percussionist. In 2009, he was awarded an emerging artist grant from the Arts Council of Hillsborough County to produce a poetry CD.
For more information about James Tokley, visit: http://www.jamestokley.com/latest/bio.html

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