This week teens are leading Chile’s biggest protests while Nando’s art sparks backlash
28 Oct 2019
I’m sending love and solidarity to the transgender community after a particularly aggressive pushing of the anti-trans agenda this week. Lawyer and TERF Allison Bailey launched the trans-exclusionary group LGB Alliance on October 22 with a meeting with A Woman’s Place UK – a group campaigning for spaces reserved for cis women. Meanwhile, on Tinder, PinkNews found evidence that people are being banned after changing their gender on the app to trans. On October 15, the Home Office released figures showing that hate crimes against trans people have increased by 37% since last year. In a world where at least 18 trans women – most of them black – have already been killed in America this year, it is sickening that some women are looking to alienate them further. Trans women are women; the inhumane LGB Alliance has no place in this world.
Here’s what else went down this week.
Students, social media, and soaring costs – what’s fuelling Chile’s largest-ever protest?
The people of Chile have inspired the world with their cohesive activism that saw 1.2 million people, young and old, take to the streets of Santiago to protest the neoliberal ideologies the US implanted into Chile after the 1973 military coup. Policies, that have been unchanged for 30 years, have left the working-class majority with deficient education and healthcare, and very low pensions. The cost of living remains high, meaning many people live in debt.
Three weeks ago, the government increased metro train prices, something that affects the poorest, who live outside Santiago’s centre. It was the third time this government had increased the price, sparking high school students to organise a mass-rejection of paying for the metro. Of course, social media was a powerful mobilising force. Videos of school kids jumping metro barriers went viral and before long, adults began doing it too.
Belén, a 26-year-old artist, who was at the protests and she expressed her stress and nervousness around police brutality. “The military interrupted a peaceful protest by throwing tear bombs and there were children and families there,” she said.
Speaking to gal-dem, 31-year-old Maximiliano León from Puente Alto, Santiago, said “crazy images of kids being hit by police and using tear gas bombs” also spread on social media. The activist explained how older people who have trauma from the dictatorship days were scared of the activism, but, “they are braver now because they can feel the contagious vibes of younger people”. León described the movement as “transversal”, something that assembled spontaneously because of a collective feeling of “being cheated constantly by the political class”. He continued: “We live supposedly under a democracy, we can’t stand having the army on the street killing people to defend the upper-class privileges.”
What’s interesting is that he said that Chileans have stopped watching TV news, exchanging it for social media videos from the ground, which speaks to the ongoing distrust between populations and the media.
“The power of the social network” is what is fuelling collective action while traditional media is applying a “shock doctrine” as León describes it. Broadcasts prioritise footage of the looting and disruption over the demands for profound structural change.
Nandos dishes out apology after customer complains about ‘racist’ painting… by black artist
Nandos has a responsive PR team ready to respond to accusations. This week, a new branch of the chicken chain opened up in Birmingham and a customer branded one of the paintings as racist. The image was painted by South African artist Khaya Sineyile and depicts black people standing inside a toaster.
Sineyile’s art is centred around depictions of social inequality. It illustrates the racialised problems South Africans face, and the misinterpretation likely came from a lack of contextualising and crediting from Nando’s. Instead of giving context and using the opportunity to educate people on the subtext in Khaya’s art, Nandos issued an apology.
The immediate apology and removal is indicative of a fake social conscience that many brands are trying on for size. Nando’s boasts of its support for artists in South Africa, but when someone misinterpreted it, the brand distanced itself. Many people have called for Nando’s to retract the apology and instead do better at educating their audience so that the art can spark important (and spicy – ha!) conversations.
Nando’s has been approached for comment.
• An infuriating article by Travel Noire read: “London surprisingly has a Caribbean food scene.” Naturally, black Londoners were not happy with the use of the word “surprisingly” overlooking London’s diverse immigrant communities especially those descended from the Windrush. What’s worse is that the list didn’t even contain any black-owned restaurants.
• For the first time in The Fashion Awards’ 18 year history, four out of five of the nominees for Model of the Year are black or mixed heritage women.
• Bumi Thomas, the British jazz musician we interviewed last week, has won her appeal against her removal from the UK.
• Blak Wave, the first black-owned TV production company in Bristol has opened, with a mission to create content from a fresh perspective.
•Issa Rae has launched a new record label with Atlantic Records, Raedio, and her first artist is Haitian-American rapper and singer TeaMarr.
•Michael B. Jordan’s anime series gen:LOCK has been renewed for a second season.
•Naomie Harris is in talks to star opposite Tom Hardy in Venom 2 as the villain Shriek.
•47.5% of adverts over the Diwali period in India were found to reinforce gender stereotypes, a new study has shown.
• There are “black man” Halloween costumes on sale in South Korea with the tag line “cute but also scary”. WTF?
• Roxana Quispe Collantes, a student in Peru, became the first person to write and defend a thesis in Quechua, the language of the Incas.
•Stop and search tactics are up by almost a third in England and Wales in the past 12 months. Black Brits are 9.7 times more likely to be stopped and searched by police than a white person.
• NFL team Washington Redskins say they have no plans to change their name despite protests by Native Americans about them using a racial slur in their team name and appropriating parts of their culture as a mascot.
• Japanese metal band Babymetal became the first Asian act to top Top Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart.
• A 16-year-old Muslim athlete, Noor Abukaram, ran her personal best in a 5km race in Ohio, but was disqualified for wearing a hijab.
•Queen Latifah received the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal from Harvard University for her contributions to black history and culture.
• Transport for London is offering up advertising space for a campaign that successfully challenges the “sometimes superficial” representation of the city’s BAME communities.
• UK Universities are letting their students of colour down as they fail to address tens of thousands of racist incidents every year, an equalities watchdog has warned.
• Sixteen LGBTQIA+ activists in Uganda were subjected to forced anal examinations after arrest.
• A widely used medical algorithm that predicts which patients require extra medical care dramatically underestimates the needs of the sickest black patients.
• In more deeply concerning AI news, new software is claiming to be able to spy thieves before they steal. How? It will look at body language, gait, facial expressions, clothing choices, all of which will be based on stereotypes and absolutely will be racist.
• In Rory Stewart’s most recent attempt at being an everyman, he took Brick Lane armed with some jeans and an open-collar shirt, and spoke to three black men from an Irish hip-hop band, calling them “minor gangsters”.
•Twitter has contributed to the silencing of Kashmiris as it has been revealed that the platform removed almost 1 million tweets, bowing to the Indian government.
Moment of the week
Hands down the highlight of this week is congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez grilling Mark Zuckerberg about their many sins, including Cambridge Analytica. AOC for President 2020.
This article is a part of gal-dem’s Race Review column, a weekly news roundup centring the issues faced by people of colour.