Human Rights in Our Own Backyard

I often rave about the great stuff going on at Eckerd College. But last weekend after all my years here (seven to be exact), I finally found my way to the University of Tampa

I caught the tale end of Human Rights Day, which featured UT instructors Chioke I'anson (also a Free Skooler, fellow WMNF'er & friend), and Drs. Bruce Friesen & Marcus Arvan.

Dr. Friesen covered the Kony 2012 video drama, highlighting its major problems. He ultimately, however, gave credit to the process, saying “as long as we get students exposed," he could get behind the work. 

Dr. Arvan disagreed. "We’re making our judgements from afar. It’s the people on the ground that know the needs.” 

Citing a lack of accountability and white savior complex of the organization behind the Kony video, Adjunct Prof I'anson, who has spent several summers in Uganda, argued that “Everything about Invisible Children is bad,”  

Last month he sat on an NYU panel with the IC and said they avoided answering all of his questions. He added, "Their videos do not transcend race but plays up racist predisposition." 

One solution I'anson offered was alternative narratives, that is, letting the Ugandans speak for themselves. 

UT senior Jasmine Eggestein, majoring in criminology, specifically human trafficking & cyber security, and junior Shelly Santos, a criminology major focusing on child protection attended the day's events. 

Giselle Rodriguez of the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking spoke earlier in the day about child exploitation. 

During Friesen's Kony 2012 discussion, she said “A lot of what they talked about has happened here in the US," in terms of gang initiations and other forms of violence and exploitation. 

Friesen added that human rights definitely starts at home. 

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