Dear Ben Affleck,
I have to admit, for the better part of my life, I wasn’t really that interested in you.
Gigli was a turn-off, and for some reason, I never really enjoyed Armageddon, either, even though all my friends were obsessed.
I knew you did some sort of activism in Africa, but I didn’t really think much of it.
Truth be told, it’s always been that buddy of yours, Matt Damon, who really sets my oh-so-feminine heart a-flutter.
After reading your response to #Kony2012 and the Invisible Children campaign on The Huffington Post, I happily admit to underestimating you. In fact, I may have a new celebrity crush.
The following paragraph from your article is pretty cool:
“Westerners are not and will never be the 'saviors' of Africa. That idea has been tried and found wanting. It is ineffectual at best and deadly at worst. The organization I founded, Eastern Congo Initiative, funds Congolese-led organizations that rescue child soldiers from the bush and provides them with education, medical assistance, job training, and counseling.”
And it gets even better when you start talking about your organization, Eastern Congo Initiative:
“We support the work being done by highly capable and determined Congolese, to make their communities a better place.”
I love the emphasis that you put on the strong and resilient Congolese people—the Congolese people who are not sitting around waiting for someone to save them, but who are envisioning a better future, and acting toward making it happen.
I also really appreciate that your article is nuanced. It’s not all about one evil person, or easy answers, and the future isn’t dependent solely on overseas activism.
There are those in the aid and development industry who will probably still criticize you, or roll their eyes, or make snide comments about the stupidity of your celebrity activism being a poverty safari, me-centered, or white-saviour mania.
But I just wanted to thank you for showing that activism, even celebrity activism, doesn’t have to be about a dumbed-down, simplified message in order for people to notice.
Judging from this article, you’ve added an important voice to the conversation about the ways that different people from different backgrounds and countries can actually, really, truly start shaking things up.
Lots of love, bro—carry on.
HT @viewfromthecave for introducing me to my new celeb crush
|Ben Affleck strolling around somewhere in Africa...I don't know where this photo is from. Sorry. If it's yours, let me know and I'll take it down.|