While 30,000 child soldiers have been abducted by Joseph Kony in Uganda over the past 20 years, 6,604 hate crimes occurred in 2009 alone in the United States, according to the FBI.
Invisible Children's Kony 2012 video that went viral on all social media platforms this month brought to light how thousands of children are being harmed and treated inhumanely in central Africa. Such efforts to increase awareness are undoubtedly effective: Millions of individuals are fighting this injustice, whether through protests and rallies, signing a pledge or hosting other awareness events.
But just two weeks before Kony was a trending topic on Facebook and Twitter, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed while he was walking home from buying Skittles at a convenience store in Sanford, Fla. This time, the problem of inhumanity isn't more than 7,000 miles away or even in another state, yet for weeks it went relatively unnoticed. This time, cruelty hit home, just four hours from campus. The scope of the tragedy, however, was not nearly as immense or powerful as the Kony movement in recent weeks.
Does every important cause require a viral video to catch people's attention and call them to action?
Crimes against humanity are relevant, no matter where they are and who they affect. Race, gender, socioeconomic status or location are not the issue. These are evils against living, breathing humans who are just like us. Trayvon, according to the Miami Herald, was a normal teen who enjoyed playing video games, was looking forward to prom, and hoped to proudly wear orange and green in college, either at the University of Miami or Florida A&M University.
Unfortunately, the Trayvon cause is lacking the pathos that the Kony video sparked and, thus, awareness has not translated into action. Regardless, hate crimes shouldn't need to be accompanied by an audio or visual component because the concept of social injustice is frightening and horrific in itself.
And when the crime is happening right here on our home turf, there are a multitude of ways to get involved against inhumanity.
The Miami Heat, with a powerful statement of "We want justice," has already spoken out in response to the Trayvon Martin shooting. The team took a photo of all the players wearing hoodies, as Trayvon did the night of his death, with their heads bowed down.
President Barack Obama was similarly touched by Trayvon's story. In a comment to a reporter last week, Obama said that this tragedy makes him think about his own kids, and every parent in America should be able to relate to that. He said he can't imagine what Trayvon's parents are going through and hopes that the "state, federal and local governments get to the bottom of this."
Although the Trayvon Martin case may only directly affect a handful of people while the Kony situation has affected millions, both cases concern lives taken away early and brutally, but most of all unnecessarily. If you're passionate about ending the long-running crisis in Africa, start with hate crimes at home in the United States. Now that you've watched the Kony video and shared it with all your friends, read about Trayvon, get the facts and pass it on.
Change begins with information. Information leads to involvement. Involvement leads to prevention. You can be the next person to save a child, a teenager, a sister, a brother, a mother, a father, a grandparent or even yourself.