Most of us have seen or heard of the cause surrounding the kidnapping of over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram by now, and participated in the hashtag campaign to raise awareness. Social media fads are usually looked down upon because people tend to latch onto anything mildly popular in an attempt to become a part of something. However, #BringBackOurGirls began as a backlash from Nigerian activists who were dissatisfied by the government’s lack of action to recover the missing children. It then evolved into outrage at western media and officials, for their lack of interest in the subject, claiming that if the girls had been of white/European descent that their stories would have been running on North American news outlets around the clock. Finally, the campaign has spread to garner worldwide coverage and media outlets in western countries have started reporting and posting updates about the cause.
It was first brought to my attention by Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls whom I am a staunch follower and supporter. I contributed to the campaign where I could and found more and more of my followers on tumblr were equally outraged at the racist treatment American media had shown the girls and their families – simply by ignoring the event entirely. But the battle isn’t over yet, although the hashtag has helped to gain awareness, supporters need to keep up the momentum until the schoolgirls have been rescued.
This past weekend Nigerian-Canadians gathered in Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square to protest and plead Stephen Harper to take action. I saw this on the news with my sister, who I was hardly surprised to see was unashamedly confused and angered – at the protesters. “I don’t get it,” she said. “They’re in Nigeria. Why should we care?” I don’t care much for overt patriotism, and am generally appalled by the way powerful people dictate where in the world an individual can travel (hell, they can bar you from leaving the country if they like), so it’s not hard for me to view foreign affairs as just ‘affairs’. “They’re little girls,” I said to her. We’re all people. Kidnapping is wrong, terrorism is wrong. Extremist groups and sex trafficking need to be stopped. If you can do something about it, do something. These are families being torn apart; girls being sold for $12. “This isn’t about politics,” I said. “It’s about humanity and helping people. Don’t sneer at that.” Many influential women are getting involved. Are you?
What’s your commentary on the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag campaign? Who do you stand behind and beside when it comes to feminism, racial equality, and anti-terrorism? Leave your comments below or tweet me @FreeAndie.