Greta Thunberg speaks out after Ugandan climate activist cropped from photo

The Associated Press said that they cut Vanessa Nakate from the image ‘purely on composition grounds’

Greta Thunberg has criticised the Associated Press news agency after they cropped out Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate from a photograph with the climate change activist.

The photograph, originally of Nakate alongside Greta Thunberg, Loukina Tille, Luisa Neubauer, and Isabelle Axelsson, was taken at a youth climate science event at the World Economic Forum, January 26. When covering a story from the event, the Associated Press cropped out Nakate from the image, and have since been called out for racism.  

“This Friday 5 representatives from Fridays For Future held a press conference in Davos,” Thunberg wrote on Instagram. “A news agency chose to edit the picture like above, cutting out @vanessanakate1 from the picture. This is totally unacceptable in so many ways. Like Vanessa said herself: ‘You didn't just erase a photo. You erased a continent.’”

Nakate has also spoken out against her removal from the photograph on Twitter. “We don’t deserve this. Africa is the least emitter of carbons, but we are the most affected by the climate crisis,” she said in a video that has since gone viral. “You erasing our voices won’t change anything. You erasing our stories won’t change anything,” She also added that for the first time in her life she now understood “the definition of the word racism”.

According to The Guardian, the AP’s director of photography, David Ake, said the photographer “cropped it purely on composition grounds”. Ake added that “he thought the building in the background was distracting”.

After cries of outrage from supporters and fellow climate activists, the AP has since replaced the cropped photo with its original, claiming “no ill intent”.

AP has since issued a statement, saying: “We regret publishing a photo this morning that cropped out Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate, the only person of color in the photo. As a news organization, we care deeply about accurately representing the world that we cover. We train our journalists to be sensitive to issues of inclusion and omission. We have spoken internally with our journalists and we will learn from this error in judgment.”