This week Covid-19 forces Austria to u-turn on face covering and a mystery tweeter uncovers misogynoir
A gossip girl-type account is digging up old sins of revered tweeters while Muslim women are being asked to cover their face with masks by burqa-banning Austria
27 Apr 2020
It’s Monday again even though we now have a very loose concept of times and days. This Race Review, giving you the low down on all the news about us you need to know, comes from the minds of Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff and Kemi Alemoru.
REFLECT: How should people apologise for colourist and anti-black comments?
A new Twitter account has been spilling some scalding tea across Black Twitter. Thanks to @GlobalTeaTV, many popular Black Twitter accounts have woken up to find despicable tweets from their pasts plastered across the site.
From comments by 3 Shots of Tequila podcaster Tazer Black that “all you girls who have a chip on your shoulder bcos us guys like lighties should SHUT THE F*CK UP”, to drill artist Rico Vondelle stating that “black girls are forbidden, white girls and lighties are the future”, colourism and anti-blackness were rampant on Twitter in the 2010s, and a reflection of the environments many black adolescents and teens in the UK still grow up in today; where light-skinned black girls and white girls are seen as the epitome of desirability and women who are darker-skinned are subject to a type of degrading misogynoir that harms lives.
It’s a symptom of internalised anti-blackness, in a society where white supremacist ideology has leaked into the minds of the very people most affected by it, but it is unacceptable and shameful nonetheless.
Now that the tea has been split, however, the TL is moving on to apologies. It’s already been pointed out that black women shouldn’t be expected to accept the grovellings of people who grew up humiliating them. But while there have been some who have posted seemingly sincere apologies, like @Ludo4PF, who has said he is “generally very disappointed and disgusted in myself”, others, like @msangelinejolie, have tweeted that “I’d tweet these today… if you’re a black shit you’re a black shit”.
For many, no type of apology will make up for their peers’ behaviour, and instead, they are directing their energy towards stanning dark-skinned black women who haven’t been found to have spent their youths indulging in anti-black ignorance for “jokes”. Alongside accountability, this, it seems, is the most positive outcome that could come from a spillage.
REPORT: Coronavirus makes burqa-banning Austria suddenly hungary for face covering
In the fight against coronavirus, every country has slightly different artillery. Despite confusing WHO advice on mask-wearing and the efficacy of cloth in limiting the spread of the virus, countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey, and Morocco have made it compulsory to wear face masks in shops and other public spaces. Now, if you’re caught outside with a bare face in Morocco you’ll be fined 1,300 dirhams (£285).
Similarly, Austria is also one of the countries you could face a small fine if you don’t cover your face. The government has been pushing the idea that masks will improve the safety of the nation. But, where it differs from the other countries, is that it controversially banned burqas and niqabs just a few years ago under the belief that no one’s face should be hidden in public.
Taking the lead from France, which became the first European country to ban the burqa in 2010, Austria passed the “anti-face-veiling act” under the guise that face covering is a public safety hazard. In the midst of a global contagion, the opposite is true.
According to BBC News, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced the new rules and basic nose and mouth coverings were required to prevent people coughing or sneezing on others and infecting them but added a caveat: “I am fully aware that masks are something alien to our culture.”
In the last couple of weeks, Muslims within Austria have pointed out the hypocrisy of face-covering going from peculiar to mandatory.
Alya* believes most Austrians on the whole never had “that big of a problem” with niqabs and now may have even less. “I have been wearing a headscarf for nine years and I had two bad experiences with it,” she explained. “Muslims here thought that the niqab bans were too harsh. Now I saw at least two girls wearing niqabs in the last week and nobody said anything or hated on them.”
But do the rules against burqas and niqabs (a €150 fine) still legally apply? Austrian artist and youth worker Asma said: “Now you pay a €25 fine when you don’t wear a mask at the subway or supermarket,” but as for the clothing choices of Muslim women in the interim, “they didn’t make it clear”.
She continued: “I tried it experimentally but there was no police or something who saw me. I saw a woman with niqab on the street but also nobody stopped her. People are only worried about themselves… Therefore nobody cares. But I am excited about how things will be in future.”
As more countries adopt masks, the same debate is sure to flare up. Do European countries still fear a covered face?
• A black woman died from coronavirus after being turned away four times from the hospital she worked in for decades. Deborah Gatewood was a 63-year-old healthcare worker from Michigan.
• Meghan and Harry have cut four British tabloids from their roster of publications that they engage with. They and their comms team are done with the Daily Mail, the Sun, the Mirror, and the Express.
• Iran has extended British-Iranian dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s prison release by a month. Nazanin has been in captivity in Iran for four years after visiting the country to see her parents in 2016 with her baby daughter.
• There are fears that a dangerous trend of right-wing conspiracy theories about Muslims could lead to a wave of Islamophobic attacks when the lockdown is over. Some posts have called for the demolition of all mosques to “cure” coronavirus.
• The appointment of Trevor Philips as to provide support into an inquiry on disproportionate BAME deaths due to Covid-19 has been widely criticised. The former equalities commission chief was recently suspended by the Labour party over allegations of Islamaphobia.
• Worrying research from the Runnymede Trust suggests that the pandemic is widening economic gaps for black, Asian and ethnic minority groups and that the effects could last a generation.
• Controversy arose when the governor of Nairobi included bottles of Hennesy in coronavirus care packages donated to food banks claiming it could act as a “throat sanitizer”
*names have been changed to protect identities