Linh-Lan Dao on Anti-Asian Racism & French Media

In the fourth episode of We Belong Podcast, we meet Linh-Lan Dao, a TV Journalist for France Info. She works at the fact-checking TV program ‘Vrai ou Fake’ and uses arts to explain the news on the Youtube channel Draw my news.

Following a controversial broadcast by two French humorists, Kev Adams and Gad Elmaleh, Linh denounced prejudice and racism against Asians in a video that reached 2.5 million views. She is committed to standing up to anti-Asian racism and has been particularly vocal since the outbreak of the coronavirus, shedding the light on anti-Asian discriminations, verifying news and tweeting with #Imnotavirus.

In our conversation with Linh-Lan, we discussed her passion for journalism and drawing. We also talked about the importance of giving a voice to Asian communities living in France and their representation in the media.

Episode available on Apple PodcastSpotifyAnchorYoutube and at the bottom of this post.


We Belong is the podcast that gives a voice to the New Daughters of Europe. Yasmine Ouirhrane, appointed expert by the European Union and the African Union, hosts this series of conversations with young women who represent the diversity of Europe. She talks to women who are breaking stereotypes, navigating multiple identities, and challenging the conventional wisdom of what it means to belong.

As an advocate for social and gender justice in Europe, Yasmine Ouirhrane was awarded Young European of the Year 2019 by the Schwarzkopf Foundation. She was also named EDD Young Leader by the European Commission and is an expert on Peace & Security at the AU-EU Youth Cooperation Hub. She is an award-winning fellow at Women Deliver and a member of the Gender Innovation Agora at UN Women.

The Podcast is produced by Les Cavalcades.

Follow us on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

Míriam Hatibi on Activism Against Islamophobia

For the third episode of We Belong Podcast, we take you to Spain to meet Míriam Hatibi. Míriam is an activist against racism and islamophobia and the author of ‘Look Me in the Eye’ and ‘Leila’.

Activist and author, Míriam Hatibi

She also contributes to the opinion sections of several publications, where she promotes a visible media presence for people of diverse origins, particularly women.

Following the August 2017 terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, Míriam vehemently condemned terrorism at a demonstration in Plaça de Catalunya that brought together hundreds of Muslims. Since December 2014, she has been the spokesperson for the Ibn Battuta Foundation (FIB), an entity created to promote socio-cultural exchange.

In our conversation, Miriam recalls her reaction to the terrorist attacks and tells us about her work to deconstruct islamophobia and stereotypes surrounding muslim people. She also talks of her ambition to create new spaces for immigrant daughters to shine in society.

Episode available on Apple PodcastSpotifyAnchorYoutube and at the bottom of this post.


We Belong is the podcast that gives a voice to the New Daughters of Europe.  Yasmine Ouirhrane, appointed expert by the European Union and the African Union, will host this series of conversations with young women representing the diversity of Europe. She will travel and meet women who are breaking stereotypes, navigating multiple identities, and challenging the conventional wisdom of what it means to belong. 

As an advocate for social and gender justice in Europe, Yasmine Ouirhrane was awarded Young European of the Year 2019 by the Schwarzkopf Foundation. She was also named EDD Young Leader by the European Commission and is an expert on Peace & Security at the AU-EU Youth Cooperation Hub, mandated by the EU and the AU. She is an award-winning fellow at Women Deliver and a member of the Gender Innovation Agora at UN Women.

The Podcast is produced by Les Cavalcades.

Follow We Belong on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

Bellamy on Amplifying the Voices of Afroitalians

For the second episode of We Belong Podcast, we take you to Milan, Italy – the country currently worst affected by the coronavirus. We recorded a special remote interview with Bellamy, a model, blogger, activist and the founder of Afroitalian Souls.

Bellamy was born and raised in Italy in a half Ugandan and half Sudanese family. Her interests range from fashion and skincare to international politics. She became increasingly passionate about socio-cultural issues, particularly on the experience of the black body in different countries. While researching this, she felt called to take action in Italy.

With her friend Grazia, she created Afroitalian Souls: a digital platform that promotes the excellence of the African diaspora in Italy while simultaneously bringing awareness to the endless social and racial issues they face.

In our conversation with Bellamy, we discuss the impact of Covid-19 in Italy, the structural and cultural forms of violence that black Italians face, and how she uses sarcasm and style to amplify the voice of Afroitalians on social media.

Episode available on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Anchor, Youtube and at the bottom of this post.


We Belong is the podcast that gives a voice to the New Daughters of Europe.  Yasmine Ouirhrane, appointed expert by the European Union and the African Union, will host this series of conversations with young women representing the diversity of Europe. She will travel and meet women who are breaking stereotypes, navigating multiple identities, and challenging the conventional wisdom of what it means to belong. 

As an advocate for social and gender justice in Europe, Yasmine Ouirhrane was awarded Young European of the Year 2019 by the Schwarzkopf Foundation. She was also named EDD Young Leader by the European Commission and is an expert on Peace & Security at the AU-EU Youth Cooperation Hub, mandated by the EU and the AU. She is an award-winning fellow at Women Deliver and a member of the Gender Innovation Agora at UN Women.

The Podcast is produced by Les Cavalcades.

Follow us on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

Black Girl Magic: 4 Activists You Should Know

Here in the US, February is Black History Month. As a young Black woman, this time of year has always brought excitement. Growing up, I would learn amazing, interesting, and resilient stories about those who came before me. In more recent years, I have found myself looking up to several Black girls and young women who are making an impact in the world right now. As Black History Month comes to a close, I want to acknowledge and share the work of a few of these amazing activists.

Mari Copeny, 13, also known as Little Miss Flint, is a clean water activist from Flint, Michigan. She has been advocating on behalf of her community for the right to access clean water since 2014, when the residents of Flint began noticing their public water sources contained extreme amounts of lead poisoning. Mari has been a consistent and persistent advocate for clean water justice. She strives to “make sure people don’t forget about Flint.” I admire Mari for her courage and unwavering commitment to justice, even when adults don’t rise to the occasion in support of the same goal.

Kheris Rogers, also 13, is an advocate working on a future free from bullying. In the first grade, Kheris was bullied for the color of her skin. But she didn’t let it get her down. Taking matters into her own hands, she worked with her sister to launch the #FlexinInMyComplexion campaign across Twitter. After being met with a flood of positive messages, Kheris has built Flexin’ In My Complexion into a brand. They have sold over 10,000 shirts and garnered the attention of a number of celebrities.

In an article with Teen Vogue, Kheris shares her experience of being bullied for her skin color. I can’t help but resonate with some of her feelings and thoughts because of my own similar experiences at school.

I applaud Kheris for standing up for herself, sharing her story, and providing opportunities for other young black girls to acknowledge the beauty of their complexion.

Naomi Wadler, 13, is a gun violence activist. She highlights the effect that gun violence has – particularly on young African American girls. You may know Naomi from the engaging, honest speech she gave at March for Our Lives in 2018. Since then, she has continued to show up for her peers in spaces across the world. Naomi has spoken at the Tribeca Film Festival, the Teen Vogue Summit, and most recently at Davos 2020. I admire Naomi because she is firm in her fight against gun violence, and firm in making sure that girls and young women of color are always brought into the conversation. She is a true advocate for us in this space.

Vanessa Nakate, 15, is a climate justice activist from Uganda, and founder of Youth for Future Africa and the Rise-Up Movement. Uganda is very dependent on its agricultural sector, and so Vanessa has seen the effects of climate change firsthand. I first learned of Vanessa earlier this year when she attended Davos 2020. She was (unfortunately, yet unsurprisingly) cropped out of a photograph taken with other (white) youth climate activists. The incident has sparked conversation around the inclusion of African voices in the climate justice space. Since it happened, Vanessa has been working to make sure other African climate activists are included at the international climate justice table.

Who would you add to this list? Let’s celebrate and raise the voices of these inspirational young activists.

Nia Wilson: Say Her Name

On Sunday 22 July, an 18-year-old woman was fatally stabbed on a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station platform in Oakland, California.

Her name was Nia Wilson. 

The following day, John Cowell (27) was arrested for the attack, which killed Nia and seriously wounded her sister, Latifah. He has been charged with murder and attempted murder.

Credit: Nichelle Stephens

In the days since, thousands of people have gathered to mourn Nia’s death and honour her life, and tens of thousands of social media posts tagged #NiaWilson, #JusticeForNia and #SayHerName have swept the internet.

Although the BART Police Chief has reportedly said that there is currently no evidence to suggest that Cowell is part of any terrorist or white supremacist group, Nia’s murder – along with the subsequent police and media response – have reignited national and international debates on race.

Celebrities, artists and all those horrified by the brutal, unprovoked murder of a young woman have been speaking out against the racism, white supremacy and misogyny that – as writer Elizabeth Gilbert posted“is so deeply embedded within our culture that we marinate in it at every level.”

In the past, when #SayHerName has been used to shine a light on murders of black women, I am ashamed to say that I have stayed silent. I’ve worried that it was not my time to speak, not my space to occupy – worried that I’d say the wrong thing. But I see now that those worries are privileges in themselves, and that the choice to remain silent is one that many women do not share with me when violence and fear remain threads woven tightly through the fabric of their daily lives.

As a white young woman, I cannot call myself a feminist if I don’t express the sorrow and disgust I feel about what happened to Nia with the same outrage, and at the same volume, as I would if a white 18-year-old was murdered where I live. Feminism that is not intersectional is irrelevant, and in this instance, silence is compliance.

What can I do? What can you do?

Firstly, you can donate to the Wilson family’s ‘Justice for Nia’ page. Then…

– Ask yourself what you are doing to disrupt systemic racism, answer honestly.

– Challenge yourself to acknowledge the ways you have personally benefited, and will continue to benefit in the future, from that racism.

– Think about how, as a white person, you can use your words and actions and networks and finances to help make the world a safer place for black people.

– Call out people around you who demonstrate hateful or oppressive behaviour. Stop ignoring racist comments or laughing at racist jokes.

– Read and learn and be willing to change. Listen to people when they tell you about their experiences, while remembering that asking black people to explain racism, or for guidance on how you can help, is asking those already doing the majority of the emotional work to dismantle white supremacy to work even harder and carry an even heavier burden. Do your own work, challenge yourself and those around you.

– Notice when the media uses language to vilify black people, or to excuse white people.

– Educate yourself on the intricacies of white supremacy. Admit to yourself if you find it uncomfortable and difficult then carry on anyway.

– Remember that good intentions are not enough.

We have to do better. We have to stand with black women. Please share any other suggestions you have! None of us are free until all of us are free. 

Nia was 18. She deserved a full and long and safe and joyful life. Say her name.

A Different Take on Inclusion

My new job requires me to do a lot of research on teacher preparation programs in the United States. The need for diversity – in this case, specifically racial diversity – is mentioned in numerous reports on the current state of the teaching profession.

Being a woman of color, I had become kind of numb to the idea as the term is thrown around so much and I often feel as though I serve as the only marker of ‘diversity’ in various spaces. 

As I continued my research, the word just kept jumping out at me. Diversity was in almost every report, spoken at every seminar, and used by every university education program. Then the statistical data behind why diversity is necessary began to come to light. In 2012, 49% of secondary students in the US were of color but only 12% of their teachers were. That’s a huge disparity, right? This statistic also made me reflect on my own secondary education career and realize I only ever had one teacher who looked like me. Even with this knowledge, I was still not fully ready for what I was to find next…

Researchers at the Institute of Labor Economics found that low-income Black male students in North Carolina who have just one Black teacher in third, fourth, or fifth grade are less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to consider attending college.

As I continued to search, I kept seeing different iterations of this phrase, ‘students of color perform better academically and are suspended at lower rates when exposed to at least one educator of their own ethnicity,’ but I still hadn’t wondered why that was the case.

Next, I read a report which stated students of color have higher levels of achievement when they have a teacher of color because those teachers hold a more positive perception of their students both academically and behaviorally compared to non-minority teachers.

As I read this, I had such a tough time grasping what was being said. Basically, a lot of the reports on the need for diversity were showing that non-minority teachers let their prejudice and stereotypes of minority students get in the way of their teaching ability – to such an extent that it negatively affects students of color – and the proposed solution is to hire more minority teachers. Not to call non-minority teachers to task or equip them to better serve their ALL of their students.

I was appalled by the proposed solution of merely diversifying the teaching profession. That lets so many people in our society out of doing the real work that is necessary to overcome racial stereotypes and prejudices – as these issues cannot be solved by people of color themselves.

At the same time, I was seeing the same idea being used in a social movement – the latest wave of the #MeToo campaign. Over the past few weeks, I have watched #MeToo take over my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds as so many – too many – female celebrities, activists, colleagues, and even close friends have all experienced varying degrees of sexual harassment or assault, most often at the hands of men.

As more and more stories of #MeToo are shared, I find it interesting that when it comes to the issue of sexual harassment of assault against women, it is the women we focus on the most, rather than the men who help to perpetuate this culture of abuse.

In the same way racism is not just an issue for people of color, sexual assault and harassment is not just an issue for women. But too often, these issues are labeled as the responsibility of those being harmed by them the most. The idea of inclusion needs to be applied to all actors who have a stake in an issue and not just to those who feel the direct and immediate effects of racism or sexual harassment or assault. We all share the responsibility of creating a more equitable and safe society.