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The County Chronicle

Celebrities and Influencers fail to educate the youth about worldwide issues such as the silent genocide in Congo

Imagine being a six to 17 year old student working in the coltan mines of Congo in hazardous conditions instead of being at school, listening to the teacher ramble about the math homework that should’ve been done the night before. Congolese children work in the coltan mines without protective equipment in conditions often intoxicated with a radioactive substance known to be a carcinogen.

On November 8, 2023 a video of a Congolese man setting himself on fire went viral on the social media platform “X.” In the video, an unidentified man appears to be standing in front of a crowd holding up a sign that reads, “Stop the genocide in Congo” while being consumed by flames.

According to TheMessenger reporter Carley Welch, the self-mutilation of the man was used as an attempt to bring attention to the nearly three-decades-long genocide in the eastern provinces of Congo where millions of Congolese people have been murdered and displaced.

Congo, also known as the Democratic Republic of Congo, is a country located in Central Africa, the country is best known for being endowed with exceptional natural resources such as cobalt, which is used in major electrical renewable energy component resources that are used in daily life such as smartphones, laptops, and electric cars.

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According to the United States Geological Survey, about 46% of cobalt consumed in the US is used in aircraft gas engines, 9% in cemented carbides, 14% in several other metallic applications, and 31% in chemical applications. According to author Katharine Houreld from the Washington Post, countries such as the US, France, Germany, Japan, and South Korea use cobalt for technologically advanced products.

The exploitation of coltan associated with businesses and local and global governments in Congo has resulted in severe human rights abuses such as poverty and violence within the Congolese people according to the Global Forest Coalition. According to The Brandon Gomez Show on Tiktok many are unaware of the silent genocide happening in Congo, the world isn’t and hasn’t been paying attention to the war between the national army and the rebel group, they have been committing war crimes such as mass killings.

Another Tiktok account that goes by the name Screenshot LTD similar to The Brandon Gomez show has spoken about the silent genocide amongst celebrities and influencers with big platforms, including celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift. None of them have spoken out about the silence and it’s unknown why. Similar to celebrities, influencers with huge Tiktok followings have not spoken out about the silent genocide except for a few Tiktokers such as Sincerelyawa with 335.9K followers and Elizainesse1 with 12.9K followers.

It’s unknown why celebrities and influencers don’t talk about sensitive topics such as the silent genocide in Congo. However, many Tiktokers with small platforms have concluded that celebrities and big influencers are not educated enough or they don’t want to lose their platforms like Noah Schnapp, who has a role in Stranger Things. Noah Schnapp has lost followers ever since he shared his personal opinions and views on the Palestine genocide.

For my call to action, I think we as people including normal civilians should spread awareness through social media platforms to educate those who do not know about the silent genocide. We as Americans specifically should stop purchasing technological resources that aren’t needed such as televisions, computers, and gaming consoles. Lastly, we should provide humanitarian aid through reliable humanitarian organizations such as “Save the Children” that have been around since 1994. This organization helps provide essential services, such as food, clean water, healthcare, and shelter to those who have been affected by the crisis.

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About the Contributor
Karen Martinez, staff writer
Karen Martinez is a junior at Loudoun County High School. This is her second year in the newspaper staff, she plans to become an investigative journalist in the future.

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