The Duke of Sussex has said his upbringing as a privileged member of the royal family resulted in him having no understanding of unconscious racial bias, and called for others in a similar situation to “educate themselves”. Prince Harry made the comments during a conversation with Patrick Hutchinson, the south London personal trainer who was photographed carrying a far-right protester to safety during unrest at an anti-Black Lives Matter rally this summer. The prince spoke with Hutchinson via a video call from his home in Santa Barbara, California, and said it was only through witnessing the experiences of his wife, Meghan, that he had gained a sense of how pernicious unconscious bias is. The prince said that during his childhood he had “no idea it existed” and it was only after “living a day or a week in [his] wife’s shoes” that he began to understand it. Harry added: “No one’s pointing the fingers. You can’t really point fingers, especially when it comes to unconscious bias. But once you realise or you feel a little bit uncomfortable, then the onus is on you to go out and educate yourself, because ignorance is no longer an excuse.” The two men were talking during the GQ Heroes festival, the men’s magazine’s annual summit of ideas and culture, and Hutchinson explained what happened on the day that led to his image being published on newspaper front pages in the UK. Hutchinson went to a counter-demonstration against the far right with some friends in June to protect young Black Lives Matter activists. They spotted a far-right protester being dragged through a crowd near the Royal Festival Hall, and the personal trainer intervened and carried him to safety. Hutchinson said he was “pleased that we’d been able to avert a serious, serious situation”, that he “would do it for anybody” and would happily do it again. Speaking about the global anti-racism protests, he said: “It just makes you wonder why people find it so hard to understand what we’re all striving for: the equality side of things. And why they find it hard to understand. I just struggle with that.” The prince praised Hutchinson, saying he was “a shining example of how every single human being should operate and work and function”. “Even at a time when you have two groups that are at each other on such a visceral level, all that aside, no red mist in you, you just came in, you did what was necessary and you saved a life,” he said. The prince’s comments came after the Duchess of Sussex said she was unaware the UK had its own Black History Month and helped launch a campaign to celebrate black British “trailblazers” with the Evening Standard. The campaign recognised a number “of notable leaders whose influence is making a positive and lasting impact on British culture”, including the disability campaigner Danielle Oreoluwa Jinadu and Liv Little, the founder of gal-dem magazine.
As campaigning victories go, forcing Mark Zuckerberg’s social media empire to admit a discriminatory flaw in its policy is no small feat. But following a campaign launched in this paper, the Observer can exclusively reveal that Instagram and its parent company Facebook will be updating its policy on nudity in order to help end discrimination of black women on its platforms and ensure all body types are treated fairly. In August, Instagram was accused of censoring and silencing the plus-size model Nyome Nicholas-Williams. A wave of content creators then confirmed the platform was repeatedly discriminating against black people, plus-size users and other marginalised communities, by deleting their photos or failing to promote them in the same way it did for its white users. Speaking to the Observer over the summer, Nicholas-Williams and photographer Alexandra Cameron told of how photos from their “confidence shoot” were repeatedly deleted and taken down, with warnings that their accounts – which have more than 115,000 followers between them – could be closed down. The controversy caused fans to protest and post pictures of the model en masse under the hashtag #IWantToSeeNyome. The photo-sharing app owned by Facebook was accused of hypocrisy and racism in allowing an abundance of photos of semi-naked skinny white women on its feeds but deleting those posted by black women in similar poses. Nicholas-Williams said she was shocked that “a fat black woman celebrating her body is banned … I want to promote self-love and inclusivity because that’s how I feel and how I want other women like me to feel”. The photos in question showed Nicholas-Williams with her eyes closed and wrapping an arm around her breasts. While the pose is a common trope across social media, in this instance it was deemed to violate Instagram’s guidance on pornography. As well as sophisticated artificial intelligence, Facebook and Instagram employ 15,000 content reviewers across the world. These workers individually sift through thousands of photos that are reported as offensive by users to the app everyday. Human bias – unconscious or otherwise – might be expected to occur in content deletion and account bans but Facebook and Instagram have exhaustive rules that must be applied to allow either to happen. The company denied Nicholas-Williams had been racially discriminated against, but confirmed that its former policy on “boob squeezing” had caused her photos to be removed. Campaigner Gina Martin, who had also lobbied Instagram and who previously got the law changed to criminalise “upskirting” in 2018,said: “This policy change is an example of what happens when you recognise an issue, get organised, form a relationship with big platforms and make yourself difficult to ignore.” Nicholas-Williams said she was delighted with the outcome. “This is a huge step and I am glad a dialogue has now been opened,” she said. “I want to ensure that I am respected and allowed to use spaces like Instagram, as many other creators do, without the worry of being censored and silenced.” Instagram’s influence on trends and popular culture cannot be underestimated. The social media site has over a billion users worldwide and millions of pictures are uploaded online everyday by individuals, small businesses, major brands and politicians keen to be part of the conversation. A spokesperson from Instagram confirmed that pictures of Nicholas-Williams were originally taken down as “we do not allow breast squeezing because it can be most commonly associated with pornography”. Cameron, the photographer, said: “There is more flesh to hold or place your arm around if you have bigger boobs. There was no suggestion of pornographic squeezing – my photos are explicitly about the female gaze and about empowering women.” Instagram acknowledged that the shoot showed the model “holding her breasts … [in] images intended to demonstrate self-love and body acceptance.” A spokesperson for Instagram said: “As we looked into this more closely, we realised it was an instance where our policy on breast squeezing wasn’t being correctly applied. Hearing Nyome’s feedback helped us understand where this policy was falling short, and how we could refine it.” The new policy on nudity will apply across Instagram and Facebook and come into effect this week.
Recent data shows that up to 95 percent of this summer’s violent riots across the country are linked to Black Lives Matter activism.
A “black lives matter” article that recently appeared in a children’s magazine popular in elementary schools, Junior Scholastic, is inflammatory, racist, and wholly unfit for students of any age. Of course, there’s an enormous gulf between Black Lives Matter the organization, and “black lives matter” the concept and statement. Every decent human agrees with the latter. The former, however, is
A grand juror in the Breonna Taylor case has spoken out, challenging statements made by the Kentucky attorney general and saying that the jury was not offered homicide charges to consider against officers involved in Taylor’s killing. The anonymous grand juror’s comments on Tuesday came after a Louisville judge cleared the way for the the panel’s members to talk publicly about the secretive proceedings. The juror filed suit to speak publicly after Daniel Cameron, the Kentucky attorney general, announced last month that no officers would be directly charged in the March shooting death of Taylor during a botched narcotics raid. The grand jury charged one officer with endangering her neighbors.In a written statement, the grand juror, who was not identified, said that only wanton endangerment charges were offered to them to consider against one officer. The grand jury asked questions about bringing other charges against the officers, “and the grand jury was told there would be none because the prosecutors didn’t feel they could make them stick”, the grand juror said.Cameron had opposed allowing grand jurors to speak about the proceedings, but said Tuesday that he would not appeal the judge’s ruling. Grand juries are typically secret meetings, though earlier this month the audio recordings of the proceedings in the Taylor case were released publicly.Cameron announced the results of the grand jury investigation in a widely viewed news conference on 23 September. At that announcement, he said prosecutors “walked the grand jury through every homicide offense”.He also said “the grand jury agreed” that the officers who shot Taylor were justified in returning fire after they were shot at by Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend. Walker’s lone gunshot struck one of the officers in the leg.The anonymous grand juror challenged Cameron’s comments, saying the panel “didn’t agree that certain actions were justified”, and grand jurors “did not have homicide charges explained to them”.“The grand jury never heard anything about those laws. Self defense or justification was never explained either,” the statement continued.The grand juror’s attorney, Kevin Glowgower, said his client’s chief complaint was the way in which the results were “portrayed to the public as to who made what decisions and who agreed with what decisions”.The grand juror had no further plans to speak about the proceedings on Tuesday beyond the statement, Glowgower said.Cameron has acknowledged his prosecutors did not introduce any homicide charges against two officers who shot Taylor, and said it was because they were justified in returning fire after Walker shot at them.
I can’t put my finger on exactly when I first learned I’m not in control. My certainty broke gradually: the first crack when my body went rigid with a seizure and I convulsed violently into nothingness on a red-eye flight to Beirut; another splintering when the doctors found a “mass” in my brain that afternoon; the edifice barely holding as my partner and I clung to each other all night in a skinny hospital bed, waiting for a prognosis of life or death.Even then, as the sun rose the following morning and tears streamed down my face, the terror was strangely numinous, almost thrilling. This would be an aberration, a story to spice up a dinner party. My lifelong sense of certainty – a deeply habituated need for order and control – was fractured, but still intact.But a few days later, the seizures began to roll. As soon as I closed my eyes to sleep my eyebrow would twitch, and my right eyeball would pinball rhythmically in its socket. I would feel my brain untether from my spinal cord and float into an unknowable black.Gosh it’s nice to have an existential crisis when the world around you is basically saneJess Hill, authorDuring those nocturnal seizures, when I’d try and fail to will my brain back into place, I learned what it was to be out of control. Not just in that moment, and not just in my body, but existentially. In that little apartment in Beirut, I began to realise just how delusional the notion of control actually was.But gosh it’s nice to have an existential crisis when the world around you is basically sane. Back in 2012, Obama was in the White House, nobody had heard of Isis, and Lebanon – a country I’d made my home – was defying the doomsayers by remaining peaceful. In Australia, the Gillard government had introduced the carbon tax, and it looked like finally we would incentivise industries to slash carbon emissions.The big cracks in that charade – the one that had many of us believing the world ran on a badly flawed but at least fathomable logic – appeared in 2016, as suddenly as my first seizure. Hours after American women lined up to place “I Voted” stickers at the grave of legendary suffragist Susan B Anthony, Donald Trump was elected, and instead of celebrating America’s first female president, I was surrounded by young white men in Maga hats at Sydney’s most prestigious university cheering triumphantly, “Grab ’em by the pussy!” There was the shock of Brexit – another crack. Syria’s president gassing his own citizens with impunity – crack. Diplomatic silence on the internment of Chinese Muslims – crack.But the edifice of public control didn’t truly shatter for me until New Year’s Eve 2019, when thousands of terrified adults and kids huddled under a dark red sky on the beach at Mallacoota in coastal Victoria. “It’s fucking chaos,” said a man in ski goggles sitting on a boat just offshore. “I’ve never seen anything like it.” For people without a boat, there was nowhere to go – more than 4,000 people were trapped between the ocean and a gigantic encroaching fire, engorged by 80km winds. It was 49C at 8am. As the sirens sounded, they prepared to get in the water.I wasn’t on the beach that day. Days before, my family and I had left Lake Conjola as smoke blotted out the sky, and headed south along a Princes Highway bisected by charred and smouldering trees to Bega for Christmas with our relatives. A week later we fled back to Sydney, escaping with our two-year-old over Brown Mountain hours before the road out was closed. As the news came in about Mallacoota, our family in Bega was sheltering friends whose houses were expected to burn. I was scared for them – for all of us. It was then that I felt something inside me break apart. The terror of that scene on the beach – set against the utter intransigence of our on-holidays prime minister – smashed that already fractured edifice of order for me. Huge tracts of country unstoppably ablaze. Human control would not – could not – reassert itself. The people trapped on the Mallacoota foreshore were saved that day by a change in the wind.
Alicia Garza is not synonymous with Black Lives Matter, the movement she helped create, and that’s very deliberate. The 39-year-old organiser is not interested in being the face of things; she’s interested in change. “We are often taught that, like a stork, some leader swoops from the sky to save us,” she tells me over Zoom from her home in Oakland, California. That sort of mythologising, she says, “obscures the average person’s role in creating change”.Garza is also scornful of fame for fame’s sake and of celebrity activists. The number of people who want to be online influencers rather than do the work of offline organising – knocking on doors, finding common ground, building alliances – depresses her. “Our aspiration should not be to have a million followers on Twitter,” she says. “We shouldn’t be focused on building a brand but building a base, and building the kind of movement that can succeed.”That doesn’t mean Garza doesn’t care about her image: for our interview, she has sneakily avoided having her webcam switched on, but only because she’s “doing a [skincare] face mask before your shoot today, so I didn’t want to scare you”. While Garza is ferociously smart, laser-focused on “pushing our political system to move from symbol to substance”, she also has a lighter side. She laughs often, draws you in; her passion is infectious.The evolution of Black Lives Matter, Garza says, has been 'deeply humbling, and super weird to watch'The origin story of Black Lives Matter is one of collective, collaborative action rather than individual glory. After George Zimmerman was acquitted of fatally shooting Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, in 2013, Garza wrote a Facebook post she called “a love letter to Black people”. Her friend Patrisse Cullors shared the post with the hashtag BlackLivesMatter. Another friend, Opal Tometi, designed the blacklivesmatter.com website and social media platforms, using the signature black and yellow colour palette. Seven years later, that rallying cry has changed our lexicon and landscape. Black Lives Matter has been chanted by millions of protesters around the world. It has been painted in giant letters on a road leading to the White House, and posted on windows in primary schools in Northamptonshire.The evolution of Black Lives Matter, Garza says, has been “deeply humbling, and super weird to watch”. Particularly considering she was repeatedly told, by everyone from pundits to peers, that the name sounded too threatening. “People said we should call it All Lives Matter or Black Lives Matter Too, if we wanted to get more people involved. There have been so many full-circle moments.”Four years ago, nobody talked explicitly about Black Lives Matter during the Democratic National Convention, for example. But, Garza says, you couldn’t get through five minutes of this year’s without the movement being namechecked. What’s more, it’s being talked about with “more substance than we’ve seen before”. In the early days, many of the solutions being discussed in relation to the movement were “relatively symbolic measures, like mandating that the police wear body cameras, requiring implicit bias training and setting up police reform taskforces”. Now, however, there are serious discussions about defunding the police; about “whether or not policing keeps us safe. And that is a huge, huge change.” Those conversations aren’t just happening in the US, either; they’re happening around the world.