Ramaa Mosley, a film director and documentarian, gave several interviews (on ABC, CNN and MSNBC that we know of so far, though reports have mentioned interviews on NPR and ET as well) claiming credit for launching the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls and starting a global movement. I've previously written about this here and here, but here's the information all in one place.
The story was framed as a "simple LA mom, who didn't even know what a hashtag was(!) was so moved by the story that she decided she HAD TO DO SOMETHING."
Despite the fact that twitter's own analytics tools, as well as several other sources made it clear that the hashtag was in fact created in Nigeria, by Ibrahim M. Abdullahi and largely amplified by Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, and her 126K followers, Mosley shamelessly positioned herself as the leader of a movement.
Twitter users who had been actively promoting the hashtag in the United States and pushing for greater US coverage for several weeks prior, quickly took notice of the fraud, and brought attention to it. With research, twitter users were able to discover that Ramaa Mosley was not the "simple LA mom" she was presenting herself as, but rather a documentarian with a film to promote entitled Girl Rising for which she received $500K from CNN. The movie will be screening on CNN on Sunday night. According to the Wall Street Journal:
In fact, Ms. Mosley also helped direct the film "Girl Rising," a well-received documentary about the global struggle to educate girls, and her effort to draw attention to the kidnappings is part of a push by The Documentary Group, a for-profit company, to promote the project world-wide.
CNN Films paid $500,000 last year for three years' rights to the film, and will air it again on CNN International this weekend. CNN had no comment.
Further research showed that Tom Yellin, the executive producer of Girl Rising was also an executive at ABC News. Now, to add insult to injury, Ramaa Mosley and Girl Rising are actively soliciting fraudulent donations in the name of #BringBackOurGirls. Girl Rising has already collected
almost $14K dollars in donations.
The BBOG movement is in fact, NOT raising funds, as it is completely self funded.
Dr. Oby Ezekwesili has repeatedly called out both Ramaa Mosley and Girl Rising for their fraudulent fundraising, but there has been no response from either party.
Why should any of this matter? It matters because almost 300 Nigerian girls have been kidnapped and possibly sold into sexual slavery, and a US based documentarian felt that it was appropriate to capitalize on the real pain being felt by hundreds of families to promote her project. These girls are experiencing something that many of us cannot fathom, while she uses it as a springboard to her payday.
Holly Gordon, founder of the Girl Rising project, was quoted as saying that "the Nigeria kidnappings provide "an important moment for us to promote our film." This is not okay. It is yet another incident to add to the long list of ways that white feminism tramples over black women in its journey to the top. Not only did Ramaa Mosely use this tragedy to boost her career, she did so under false pretenses, and with the full complicity of at least two major news networks.
It cannot be allowed to continue.