#BringBackOurGirls: What to Read, Who to Follow

With so many stories in the media about the almost 300 girls kidnapped from Chibok, Nigeria it can be hard to keep up. I spent some time going through articles today, and I picked a few to share. I’m most interested in stories that focus on activists in Nigeria, actions taken by the girls’ families and communities, and articles that explain how to kidnapping relates to the violence against women and girls globally.

Teju Cole’s tweets (@tejucole)

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Cole, the author of the “The White Savior Industrial Complex” has smart, aware commentary that you won’t find in the mainstream media.

“Our Visible Spectrum Is One in Which Some of Us Are Simply More Expensive Than Others” by Soraya Chemaly, Huffington Post (Twitter: @schemaly)

The truth is that certain adults are clearly scared witless by girls. It’s a great irony that, also everywhere, comparing a man to a little girl is the easiest way to suggest he’s weak and a coward.  Girls like those in Nigeria, who walk into schools knowing the dangers they face, are the bravest people I know.

Soraya Chemaly regularly provides some of the most interesting and insightful commentary on issues facing women and girls. Her article on the crisis is no exception. She ties this one event into the greater threats to girls across the globe, including in the United States and Europe. It’s long. Read it anyway.

“Have you “seen” the kidnapped girls of Nigeria” by Janell Hobson, Ms. Magazine (Twitter: @msmagazine)

How will we place gender and its intersections with race and class at the center of our analyses? Will we frame this as another “black pathology” story of U.S. “benevolence” intervening on African/Third World “incompetence” or “corruption”? This narrative is not helpful, especially when it comes from U.S./Westerners who couldn’t even begin to point out the northeastern region of Nigeria on a map.

Janell Hobson’s piece takes a good look at how this issue is being framed in the media, and how it should be framed. Westerners should take a good hard look at the questions in the last two paragraphs. Her piece reminded me of the crucial difference between being allies who support the struggle versus rescuers with savior complexes. 

These Girls Have Been Enduring the Unthinkable. The Least We Can Do Is Think of Them.” Wifey.tv (twitter: @wifeytv)

Reading names has long been a way to humanize victims of atrocity. This video presents the names of the girls (those that are known at least). Sit down for 3 minutes, watch this video, and think about the individual girls, their families, and their communities.

“Why Government Inaction Could Thwart Girls’ Education Progress in Nigeria” Global Fund for Women (twitter @GlobalFundWomen)

Our source sees social media as a tool to pressure corrupt governments and hopes that the pressure will shame the Nigerian government into being accountable to their citizens. “It is crucial for the international community to keep up their support through demonstrations, sanctions and diplomatic pressure as a clear sign of condemnation of the inadequate government response to violence against women,” said the Nigerian activist.

The Global Fund for Women makes unrestricted, general operating grants to women’s organizations that operate outside the United States. This piece is an interview with one of their allies in Nigeria (who asks not to be named). We’re hearing a lot about the celebrities that are throwing their support behind #BringBackOurGirls. It’s good they are involved, but we need to be focusing our attention on activists in Nigeria who are taking real risks and applying continual pressure on the Nigerian government.

“How Boko Haram imperils Nigeria’s future” by Melinda Gates, on CNN.com (twitter: @MelindaGates)

Melinda gates is a sharp cookie and a great writer, but the best thing about this post is the pictures. Flip through the images and really look at what people are doing in Nigeria to pressure their government. Keep tweeting, keep signing petitions, change your avatar, but remember what activists and community members are risking when they stand up in the face of arrest and violence. It’s powerful stuff.



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