All posts tagged “African

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African men, Hollywood stereotypes, and the Golden Rule

This video has been going around the interwebs the past few days so you may have already seen it, but if not, it’s a must-see.

Benard, Brian, Derrick and Gabriel came up with this idea after watching Alex presents: Commando from Mama Hope, a nonprofit doing community development work throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Here’s more on Mama Hope’s “Stop the Pity” campaign:

Take the word AFRICA… without thinking, what images immediately come to mind?

War? AIDS? Genocide? Or maybe the vision of a small child with a swollen belly, surrounded by flies? … Too many non-profits ask for your pity by depicting poor, helpless Africans. But like any stereotype, this portrayal has more exceptions than truth.

Mama Hope feels it is time to re-humanize Africa and look to the positive change that is happening. Through a series of videos Mama Hope wants to show the light of the people we serve in Africa. We aspire to introduce our partner communities to you with the integrity and brilliance that we witness everyday. In these videos we feature the shared traits that make us all human—the dancing, the singing, the laughter and bring the compelling truth of their lives to your living room. This is a campaign to build awareness of the simple fact that we are more similar than different. It’s time for us to change the way we see people across the world and start to see other communities for the people they are instead of the stereotypes we’ve been trained to expect. It is time to stop the pity and unlock the potential!

Moving from pity to emphasizing untapped potential is a big paradigm shift for many of us, but it’s so important. To give you a bit more to chew on, I thought I’d share a recent article from Christianity Today by Kent Annan, who  works with Haiti Partners and has written a couple of books, including one I reviewed last year. In this new piece, Annan reflects on KONY 2012 and the Golden Rule, and offers six principles to keep in mind before telling someone else’s story. Here are some of the questions raised:

If you’ve ever talked about your experience on a short-term missions trip in front of your church, tried to start a new project for disadvantaged people in your neighborhood, or raised money to help others, at some point you might have felt an uncomfortable twinge: Did I make the case strongly enough to motivate people to step up and help? Did I selfishly make myself the hero? Did I paint people as one-dimensional victims instead of as the people I know them to be? Did I overstate how much good we’ve done? I know I’ve made these mistakes many times during my 15 years in nonprofit work.

What can we as Westerners do to stop perpetuating stereotypes? What would it look like if we approached our storytelling through the lens of the Golden Rule? What would change? What would stay the same?