"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


the debate continues

Dustyn Winder replies to Invisible Children's Jason Russell. Previous IC posts are here and here.

Well, in regards to Mao, that is simply untrue. We have the email from Mao and we have multiple people who were conferenced in with Jason when he said Norbert Mao is a politician so you have to realize that when he says something. Politicians have to please their audience.

And as far as the film goes, premiered is different from released. The film started making waves in 2006 and was then touted as "look what is happening in Uganda." And what matters is that it is still be shown to people who believe it is accurate to this day.

We are most certainly not trying to drive a wedge between anyone and the leadership in Uganda, but the fact remains, that out of Jason's own mouth, Mao was not consulted before the release of the shirts. Again, we have the email from Mao.

There needs to be accountability. That is our biggest concern. As we said, IC does do great things and we don't wish to discount that. It just saddens me that those great things take a back seat to the media. Prioritize.

Jason, neither Erin or I were physically able to come to Lobby Days this year, but I - and I can confidently say Erin - have never rejected an offer to meet. We would love if our voices weren't only heard but actually taken into account. On that matter, the ball is in your court.

By all means, I have no desire to see IC fail. IC is an important organization in bringing Kony to justice and peace to the region, but things must be done correctly. I know Jason knows this, but this isn't just business. It is a 'business' dealing with the lives of people. We want IC to work to sure up its weaknesses because there is great opportunity.

There is a difference between saying you welcome criticism and are willing to listen and actually listening.

Sibba balungi!


Blogger Carole Turner said...

I think IC's response was great. I am glad you answered some of their points. I know very little about all this but by just reading the back and forth I think it may be possible to agree to disagree on how best to do what both of you really want to do? I do think an organization can welcome criticism and at the same time not do what the critic says because they feel differently how to accomplish their goal...so I just hope everyone can be gracious before militant and kind before stubborn, in this dialog with truly the end goal of helping Uganda.

Thursday, June 18, 2009 9:29:00 AM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Great points, Carole.

Thursday, June 18, 2009 2:32:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just want to point out that they no longer show The Rough Cut at their screenings. Now they focus more on a comprehensive history of the war and the current situation with Kony. The Rescue is the film that is being shown and as an audience member you are fully aware that night commuting has come to an end and that the situation has evolved.

Well said, Carole. I thought that Jason's response was so thorough and that with all this arguing we have forgotten that we all have the same goals.

You guys say that you don't discount the good things that IC does, yet you have really been beating a dead horse for the past couple of weeks and have not once mentioned the positive impact IC has in Uganda and here in the states (and now in a couple of other countries). For example, the 700+ children in their scholarship program, their 11 partner schools, the hundreds that have gone through the Savings Investment Training Initiative and who have eventually opened their own small businesses. That is just the tip of the ice burg.

I disagree that the programs take a back seat to the media... but the media is so important. So many people don't know that this is going on. Awareness is the first step of taking action, wouldn't you agree?

Thursday, June 18, 2009 6:22:00 PM

Blogger Dustyn Winder said...

It's the form the media takes. When it was suggested to Jason that IC not replace their media with educational material, but instead, supplement it, we were told that "We're a media company." Media is fine, but it must be responsible.

Jason's response was inaccurate in a number of ways. Most prominently concerning Mao.

The reason we're "beating a dead horse" is because the horse isn't dead. These issues haven't been addressed. It is imperative. We're attempting to be constructive, but as I've said, there is a difference between saying you accept criticism and listen and actually doing so. There's a difference between listening and trying to shut the other opinion up. It's not a matter of agreeing to disagree when the measures are dangerous to cultural sensibilities and the peace building process.

I also know of recent screenings of the Rough Cut.

I'm making the effort. I'm meeting with IC tomorrow here in Gulu. Let's hope they make the same effort. The biggest problem is that IC has become their own universe where outside opinion doesn't matter because it has no force over their business. That's a problem. The lack of accountability is a problem.

Sunday, June 21, 2009 9:21:00 AM

Anonymous Cherliza Jimenez said...

Dearest Dustyn,
From what I have read in these blog posts, facebook groups, commentary you are a passionate and intelligent guy, who is trying to solve a grave humanitarian situation. Yet most of the discussion is about your distain for Invisible Children.
I am not saying you have to support the organization or its tactics or its founders but do you have to spend so much energy in criticism and negativity toward an organization that has done more in 6 yrs than our own government.
I wish I saw more of this criticism directed toward our government and those individuals who have stood in the way of progress in Northern Uganda, because they definitely represent us, take our tax dollars, and don’t even come close to achieving what IC has.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 3:45:00 AM

Anonymous Cherliza Jimenez said...

The argument over rough cut…really?? So people shouldn’t watch documentaries that are dated?? I am not entirely sold on this concept but to each his own, I happen to believe strongly in the power of storytelling whether through film, theater, literature, dance etc … I truly hope you do too. When a screening is scheduled people are allowed to choose which film they want to screen so you probably have heard of recent rough cut screenings, it’s a film that is very powerful and continues to awaken the call to action for northern Uganda. Also it probably is in your best interest to not argue with the film maker himself dates of the film and its release. He made it I think he knows the dates.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 3:46:00 AM

Anonymous Cherliza Jimenez said...

You said previously..
“We're attempting to be constructive, but as I've said, there is a difference between saying you accept criticism and listen and actually doing so. There's a difference between listening and trying to shut the other opinion up. It's not a matter of agreeing to disagree when the measures are dangerous to cultural sensibilities and the peace building process.”
…so has invisible children is not listened to you?? Has Jason not reached out and responded?? It seems like they have repeatedly but unfortunately it’s your way or the highway. You know what’s best due to your travels and work in Uganda and expertise in the world of not only non-profit organizations but also the social constructs of culture and race, marketing, and film making. If only we could all just listen and do what you tell us immediately! But seriously and all sarcasm aside your opinion has not been dismissed or shoot down by Jason yet all of your comments are drenched in distain for the organization and its employees, volunteers, and supporters.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 3:47:00 AM

Anonymous Cherliza Jimenez said...

You talk about lack of accountability…start with your own accountability as I do. I am only 21 yrs old and up until 3yrs ago Northern Uganda could not have been further outside of my world. I went to a screening of Invisible Children that changed my life and since then I have to everything within my power to help, but not because of Jason, Bobby, and Laren but because of Emmy, Jacob, and Tony. These are the names I pray for every night and for every other nameless child living through these extraordinary and horrific circumstances.
To be frank who gives a shit if a shirt says I heart the LRA. This war has been going on for 23 years this isn’t the time for sensitivity or censorship. This isn’t a cause that can wait another second to end and if we need to be “radical” in order to change it then so be it. People in the civil rights movement didn’t sit on the back of the bus holding up peace signs asking to move to the front. They got up and sat where they belong. IC and countless others are getting the job done so what is your problem?? (Rhetorical question I have read your list of woes)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 3:48:00 AM

Anonymous Cherliza Jimenez said...

And Erin’s comparison of the shirts to “I heart concentration camps”…Legit can we plz see how absurd a comparison that is. If anything it would say I heart Nazis but wouldn’t the same either, unless the Nazi forces were actually made up of Jews who were abducted and forced to kill and rape their own people. Idk maybe Samantha Power missed that detail when she wrote her book.
You’ll probably just dismiss this as another kid on the IC juice and you know what I am proud to be. I give my money and time to IC because they get shit done wish I could say the same about my president or senator or mayor but we are still working on that. I just attended lobby days/ How it Ends and I left so inspired and informed, truly wish you could have seen it in person allow we did have it streaming for free on the event site.
Are we all really being scammed by IC?? People like Luis Moreno-Ocampo, John Prendergast, Betty Bigombe, your fav Norbert Mao, Jolly Okot, Tom Shadyac, Samantha Power, Walter Ochora etc

Are all these people really misinformed on Invisible Children’s work and mission??
And your critic of Lobby Days which is partnered by !Enough and Resolve Uganda. Events aren’t free you pay to see concerts and movies and theater why shouldn’t you pay to hear the most amazing panel of speakers on an urgent topic such as this? Non-profits will always have to deal with the puritan ethics for charities; hopefully we will progress from that. I suggest you read uncharitable by Dan Pallotta for more on that revolution.
This is a long rant lol but please know I mean no malcious intent or by any means dismiss your opinion. Jason Russell is a great man with a humble heart doing great things please lets keep the level of respect up where it belongs. Or I guess we could leave everything up to government and world vision with their newest ads featuring oh more starving kids with flies how captivating.
Mucho Amor y bendiciones! Gracias

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 3:48:00 AM

Blogger Dustyn Winder said...

I'm personally too exhausted to respond in full. I will say that I have been asked for an opinion on Lobby Days in a public forum and declined due to my absence and lack of information into how the events turned out.

I also met with IC staff in Gulu less than a week ago and have a blog coming on that. The short of it is that IC has a wonderful programs on the ground in development and from what I gather from questions and observations in Gulu, there is a HUGE disconnect between the Gulu offices and S.D. offices. That is a problem.

I have no intention of discounting the good that I know of and have seen being done. I only wish to defend it so it isn't lost to all of the IC "juice"ed masses.

Friday, June 26, 2009 4:24:00 PM

Blogger Dustyn Winder said...

I respect Jason Russel, and I went as far as to tell Jared White in Gulu how happy I was to Jared's willingness to reach out no matter how little has been done. It's not a matter of "my way or the highway". I disagree with a lot of different things orgs do, including some I'm involved with, but I know the difference b/w disagreements and vital change being needed. I'm encouraged to see that one key suggestion I've repeated is currently being worked on. I'll hold off on the details until I see it implemented, but it's definitely a step in the right direction.

The long and short of it is that there needs to be a closure to the disconnect b/w the advocacy and the on the ground work being done.

Thanks for your "unmalicious" comments. I know what I know and I believe what I believe. I refuse to be silenced because "juice" flows in abundance. I'm just glad that IC's real receptiveness to criticism seems to be working its way into existence.

Friday, June 26, 2009 4:25:00 PM

Blogger Dustyn Winder said...

And a couple more things:

1.) The majority is about my disdain for IC because this is a discussion on bad advocacy. This isn't a discussion on peace building or the history of the war or anything else. I would love to engage in that discussion with you or anyone else and do on a regular basis. The fact of the matter is that this isn't what that is.

2.) In regards to Lobby Days, and this is said with admitted ignorance to how well or poorly the event unfolded, Lobby Days used to be something based in lobbying your Congressman and by and large, headed by Resolve. IC took over and we have "How it Ends" merch., newsletters with slogans saying to "pack heat" in D.C., and a concert festival like scene. What's wrong with good old fashion movements concentrating on the actual lobbying instead of the commercial appeal and "cool" factor?

Friday, June 26, 2009 4:30:00 PM


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