A Ugandan climate change activist was reduced to tears after she was cropped out of a photo released by The Associated Press.
The photo in question was taken during a press conference and it featured climate activists Greta Thunberg, Luisa Neubauer, Isabelle Axelsson, and Loukina Tille. The AP used the photo in one of its stories and shared it on Twitter. The photo itself wasn’t interesting until Friday, when Vanessa Nakate, the only Black activist present, revealed she was cropped out of it.
“I was cropped out of this photo! Why?” Nakate tweeted.
The 23-year-old also posted an emotional 10-minute-long video to address the incident.
According to Nakate, this is the first time she ever “understood the definition of the word 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.”
Nakate added the AP did not give her “any explanation or apology.”
David Ake, director of photography at AP, blamed the crop on a photographer who was trying to honor a tight deadline and said there was “no ill intent,” per BBC. The agency also replaced the photo in question.
“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,” Ake explained.
“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,” he added.
Nakate received an outpouring of support following the faux pas, including messages from the other activists in the photo.
“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,” Thunberg tweeted.
Axelsson said the incident was “unacceptable” and Nakate’s voice “is just as, if not more, valuable than ours in a place like this.”