The college’s African Students Association released a photo campaign that has drawn international attention. Titled “The Real Africa,” it features photos of students wrapped in African flags and superimposed text refuting offensive stereotypes regarding the continent. The campaign has drawn attention to these issues, but it must continue with dialogue and education to have an impact on people’s misconceptions.
The photos debunk basic stereotypes with quotes like “Africa existed before colonialism” and “Africa is not a country.” These are proactive beginnings to education about the continent. However, the photos are not an end in themselves. Another popular campaign, Kony 2012, failed because its creators assumed their audience would educate themselves and the audience failed to engage.
People will not learn enough from photos alone, and the campaign fails to force a dialogue beyond social media. The ASA already holds several events on campus to engage students, like the annual Africa Week, and it indicated plans to use feedback from the campaign to create new projects. The group must push to inform its audience, and the audience must learn about the depth of Africa’s history and culture before clicking the share button.