Ugandan climate activist lash out over racist photo alteration

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Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate has accused the media of racism after she was cropped out of a photograph taken with her white peers in Davos.

In an emotional video statement, Ms Nakate said that for the first time in her life she “understood the definition of the word racism“.

Ms Nakate said “various” outlets, including the US’ AP news agency, had removed her from photos.

AP, which has since removed the cropped photo, said there was “no ill intent”.

The photographer was trying to get a picture out fast under tight deadline and cropped it purely on composition grounds because he thought the building in the background was distracting,” the news agency’s director of photography, David Ake, said.

“When we went back to add more pictures to the report, which we almost always do when we are working under very tight deadlines, we added additional pictures with different crops.”

Ms Nakate had given a news conference in Davos on Friday alongside fellow climate activists Greta Thunberg, Loukina Tille, Luisa Neubauer and Isabelle Axelsson.

She later shared an article by AP in which she was cropped out of a picture of the activists.

In a video statement posted on Twitter, she accused the media of racism.

“We don’t deserve this. Africa is the least emitter of carbons, but we are the most affected by the climate crisis…You erasing our voices won’t change anything. You erasing our stories won’t change anything,” she said.

“I don’t feel ok right now. The world is so cruel.”

The 23 year old said she had not received “any explanation or apology” after the AP image was replaced with one that included her.

The video has been watched about 40,000 times and been shared by hundreds of people.

Some Twitter users also noted that other media outlets had misidentified Ms Nakate as Zambian activist Natasha Mwansa.

Leading climate activists offered their support.

“I’m so sorry they did this to you… you are the last one who would deserve that! We are all so grateful for what you are doing and we all send love and support”, Ms Thunberg wrote.

Ms Axelsson said it was “unacceptable” to crop the activist out of photos.

“Her voice is just as, if not more, valuable than ours in a place like this”, she wrote.

Titi