Adut Akech, the South Sudanese – Australian model has expressed how disappointed she is after Australia’s Who Magazine, published an interview with Akech alongside the image of a fellow model Flavia Lazarus.
Stating that she felt angry and disrespected, she said, “Not only do I personally feel insulted and disrespected, but I feel like my entire race has been disrespected.”
View this post on Instagram
I’ve have given some deep thoughts the past few days on how to approach this situation that isn’t sitting well with me. For those who are not aware, last week @whomagazine (Australia) published a feature article about me. In the interview I spoke about how people view refugees and peoples attitude to colour in general. With the article they published a large photo saying it was me. But it was of another black girl. This has upset me, has made me angry, it has made me feel very disrespected and to me is unacceptable and inexcusable under any circumstances. Not only do I personally feel insulted and disrespected but I feel like my entire race has been disrespected too and it is why I feel it is important that I address this issue. Whoever did this clearly the thought that was me in that picture and that’s not okay. This is a big deal because of what I spoke about in my interview. By this happening I feel like it defeated the purpose of what I stand for and spoke about. It goes to show that people are very ignorant and narrowminded that they think every black girl or African people looks the same. I feel as though this would’ve not happened to a white model. My aim for this post is not to bash Who Magazine -they have apologised to me directly – but I feel like I need to express publicly how I feel. This has deeply affected me and we need to start an important conversation that needs to happen. I’m sure that I’m not the first person that’s experienced this and it needs to stop. I’ve been called by the name of another models who happens to be of the same Ethnicity, I find it very ignorant, rude and disrespectful towards both of us simply because we know that this doesn’t happen with white models. I want this to be somewhat of a wake up call to people within the industry it’s not OK and you need to do better. Big publications need to make sure that they fact check things before publishing them especially when its real stories and interviews and not just some made up rumors. To those who work at shows and shoots it’s important that you don’t mix up models names. Australia you’ve a lot of work to do and you’ve got to do better and that goes to the rest of the industry
The public relations agency responsible for the mix up, OPR, had earlier apologized for the mistake saying, “The error was administrative and unintentional and we sincerely apologise for this mistake and any upset it has caused to the models involved, and our client the City of Melbourne.”
OPR made this statement on the Melbourne Fashion Weeks Instagram page. Akech is an ambassador for Melbourne Fashion Week.
“I want to say how frustrated and deeply disappointed we are at the @cityofmelbourne regarding what’s occurred with our incredible @melbfashionweek ambassador Adut Akech and MFW model Flavia Lazarus,” Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Sally Capp stated in response to the incident. “Adut is right, we need to do better.”
This was after a meeting between Sally Capp and Adut Akech.
In the interview, Akech discussed spending part of her childhood as a refugee in Kenya. She also discussed both race and the treatment of refugees in the article.
This incident however shows how deep racial bias is among whites who ee black people as the same despite the difference in appearance. According to Akech, this is a common occurence in workplaces and classrooms.
“Whoever did this clearly thought that was me in that picture and that’s not OK,” she wrote. “By this happening I feel like it defeated the purpose of what I stand for and spoke about. It goes to show that people are very ignorant and narrow-minded that they think every black girl or African people looks the same. I’m sure that I’m not the first person that’s experienced this and it needs to stop.”