Outrage after Ugandan climate activist is cropped out of photo with white peers

2020-01-26 14:54
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, arrives in the US after a 15-day journey crossing the Atlantic in the Malizia II, a zero-carbon yacht in New York. (Kena Betancur, AFP)

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, arrives in the US after a 15-day journey crossing the Atlantic in the Malizia II, a zero-carbon yacht in New York. (Kena Betancur, AFP)

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Social media users have come out in support of Ugandan climate advocate Vanessa Nakate after she was cropped out of a photograph taken with her white peers in Davos.

Nakate accused the media of racism after The Associated Press news agency removed her from a photograph taken with fellow activists Greta Thunberg, Loukina Tille, Luisa Neubauer and Isabelle Axelsson. 

The image was taken on Friday after the young campaigners gave a press conference in the Swiss resort, where they had been invited by the organisers of the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) whose agenda this year focused heavily on environmental issues.

Nakate appeared shocked to find out that she had been removed from the photograph.

"I was cropped out of this photo! Why?" Nakate asked on her Twitter account on Friday.

"You didn't just erase a photo. You erased a continent. But I am stronger than ever," said the 23-year-old, who posted an almost 11-minute-long video on the social media platform.

Following her post, Twitter users expressed their anger at the news agency's move and urged it to remove the cropped photograph and share one of all the activists.

Fellow activist Thunberg called the decision to crop her peer from the photo "unacceptable".

Following the backlash, AP removed the photo and replaced it with one showing all the activists.

"We regret publishing a photo this morning that cropped out Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate, the only person of colour in the photo," Sally Buzbee, the agency's executive editor, said in a statement.

"We have spoken internally with our journalists and we will learn from this error in judgement," the statement added.

The controversy even created a wider debate about how Western media covers climate activists of colour.

Twitter uses, meanwhile, also pointed out that other agencies had misidentified Nakate as Zambian activist Natasha Mwansa.

Read more on:    greta thunberg  |  climate change
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