British politician Seyi Akiwowo is dealing with an onslaught of racist vitriol after a video of her powerful May 2016 speech confronting European nations about global colonialism resurfaced online.
Culture writer Danielle Dash reposted the video Jan. 31 on Twitter, where it went viral the first week of February. Since then, the 26-year-old East London councilor has been besieged by awful comments commanding her to “lynch herself.”
She also was subjected to primate-themed and sexual insults such as “Who’s this monkey?” and “When are you going to die from an STD?” and “Harambe’s cousin” in the wake of the video’s success.
Many of these comments came in the form of tweets which Akiwowo has screenshotted and posted online for others to see.
— SeyiAkiwowo (@seyiakiwowo) February 2, 2017
The footage, taped during an annual European parliament youth event last year, showed Akiwowo confronting a parliament after someone shouted “all refugees should go back home” while the young politicians discussed the refugee crisis in Europe.
“What do you think about members of … former empires ensuring there is economic and political stability in these former colonized countries?” She asks in the clip. “So then we won’t have to migrate here to cold countries – and I mean that by temperature and also the lack of welcoming to these people.”
Akiwowo was met with a chorus of boos after calling for reparations and restitution for centuries of European colonialism. “Then – I’m almost finished – then we can stay in our countries and rebuild after you’ve destroyed these countries. Thank you.”
In a Monday, Feb. 6 interview with Buzzfeed, Akiwowo told the outlet that she “received hundreds and hundreds of vile tweets and YouTube comments” over a 2-day period after the video went viral.
“I spent over two hours reporting over 70-odd comments and I was so annoyed, I sent a tweet about it. I wanted something to be done,” Akiwowo told the interviewer.
While she received a great deal of hate from internet trolls, Akiwowo also received a lot of support from those who valued her courage speaking truth to power.
“The Black women particularly have been great,” she said. “Some have that said I have inspired them and I’ve also received messages like ‘Thank you for advocating for us.’
“We do need more great UK Black role models who speak out. We have Jamelia, who speaks about natural hair. We need to make sure we have more of that in different fields. There’s a real thirst for that and I really appreciate the love.”