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.
Share if you can
What it means to be removed from a photo! https://t.co/1dmcbyneYV
— Vanessa Nakate (@vanessa_vash) January 24, 2020
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.
Outrageous. Full public statement and retraction needed. Stay strong @vanessa_vash 🙏
— Adam Lethbridge (@AdamLethbridge) January 24, 2020
AP showed their true colours. They don’t control the world. Go forward with your heart in tact and your head held high.
— Michelle Laidman (@LibbySavant) January 24, 2020
Fellow activist Thunberg called the decision to crop her peer from the photo “unacceptable”.
This is completely unacceptable. Period. https://t.co/gefmJ11b6C
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) January 24, 2020
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 color 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 judgment,” the statement added.
The controversy even created a wider debate about how Western media covers climate activists of colour.
Climate Activists of color are here, but the media portrayal of the movement often misrepresents this
The climate crisis affects communities of color the most— and that side of our struggle can’t be overlooked
— Xiye Bastida (@xiyebastida) January 24, 2020
Twitter uses meanwhile also pointed out that other agencies misidentified Nakate as Zambian activist Natasha Mwansa.
— Ketan Joshi (@KetanJ0) January 24, 2020