Things That Matter

An Art Project Portraying Immigrants As ‘Aliens’ Is Stirring Up Discussion About Who Can Make Art About POC

Immigration is an intensely sensitive subject. Though people migrate from all over the world, it’s one that seems to touch communities of color more often than white communities because of the prejudices our society holds against brown and Black people. One look at the border wall discussion exposes just how narrow-minded some people can be concerning migration. The use of words like “illegal immigrant” or “illegal alien” further expose how ugly people can be towards migrants. 

Considering all this, it’s not surprising that people who are uneducated about the subject of immigration seem to be the ones who talk the most about it. 

Take, for example, this offensive art project that Twitter exposed for its shocking commentary on immigration.

Twitter / @itsapobitch

Twitter user @itsapobitch ⁠— who goes by Coyolxauhqui on the social media site ⁠— shared an image of a classmate’s art project. The painting originates from the campus of the University of California Santa Barbara. According to the post, the art class’ assignment was to depict something with the theme of extraterrestrial or subterranean. For some reason, the person who created this offensive picture decided to depict a child wearing a Mexican sombrero and a serape while trick-or-treating. The painting is captioned “I’m an alien.”

Naturally, Twitter didn’t react kindly to this outrageously insensitive art project. 

Twitter / @neoputa

Twitter quickly labeled the panting as racist. This response wondered how “white people manage to be racist with every little thing.” Many comments asked Coyolxauhqui to share the artist’s name and location so they could talk to her (aka drag her) about her interpretation of the theme. Ultimately, the comments all suggested that they were upset by the outright racism of the painting but sadly weren’t surprised because of the constant state of bigotry people of color experience. 

In a strange twist to this story, the artist herself came to the Twitter thread to defend her intent and the painting’s meaning.

Instagram / @juliettecollet_

The artist, Juliette Collet, shared an explanation of the art project in a statement. She first apologized for the piece before diving in to defend her intention. According to Collet, the idea behind the painting came from a conversation with her boyfriend last year around Halloween. Her boyfriend is allegedly Mexican and came to the United States from Mexico City. Collet explains that her boyfriend was shocked to see people dressing in sombreros and serapes as Halloween costumes and appropriating his culture during the Fall holiday. 

Collet says in her statement that her boyfriend’s father was deported that same year. Due to these experiences, she felt that the theme of this project was a good opportunity to expose “how the American white gaze has stereotyped an entire people with the xenophobic notion of being an ‘alien.'”

The artist also acknowledged that her intention missed the mark and she would take the piece down and replace it with one that more positively reflected the project’s theme. Collet even shared her email address and invited people to contact her to continue the conversation. 

Though she issued the apology, many still had a problem with how oblivious this piece seemed to be about the topic of immigration. 

Twitter / @a_new_hopee

Comments responding to Collet’s explanation and apology pointed out that her instinct to depict a child in Mexican dress when the theme was essentially about aliens was a strange stretch. Twitter questioned her intention to provide societal commentary with a painting that so obviously was problematic at best. 

Despite her supposedly having a Mexican boyfriend, Collet isn’t part of the Latinx community. As Twitter user @a_new_hopee suggested, “It’s always the one’s who aren’t even a part of the community that have the most to say. In other words, outsiders to our spaces would do better to listen than attempt to speak on an issue that doesn’t directly involve them. 

The original poster of the art project, Coyolxauhqui, had some final thoughts to add to the conversation following Collet’s excuse.

Twitter / @itsapobitch

Twitter user @itsapobitch confirmed that Collet removed the painting from public view. Still, despite the artist’s apology, Coyolxauhqui explained that she let it be known when it was first displayed that the painting was dehumanizing and anti-immigrant. She also explained that the piece encouraged the misconception that all immigrants come from Mexico and this thinking can be especially harmful. 

In conclusion, Coyolxauhqui echoed the same sentiment that many on Twitter shared. As she wrote, “Point blank, never try to make artwork with experiences that don’t belong to you, especially if you’re white.” Hopefully, this will serve as a warning to any would-be artists in the future. Instead of inserting yourself into a conversation that doesn’t concern you, lift up the voices of the community. When given the opportunity, we can tell our own stories.

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People Have Taken To The Streets Across The Country In Breonna Taylor Protests

Things That Matter

People Have Taken To The Streets Across The Country In Breonna Taylor Protests

@KRISTENCLARKEJD / TWITTER

Cities across the U.S. are seeing a new wave of unrest following the grand jury’s finding on the Breonna Taylor case. Emotions are high as people protest against the lack of charges against the officers who were involved in Taylor’s death.

Protesters are raising their voices after the decision not to charge all of the officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death.

Breonna Taylor was shot and killed on March 13 when police raided her apartment. The 26-year-old ER technician was sleeping when the police executed a “no-knock” warrant. However, police had the wrong address and Taylor’s boyfriend, believe their lives were in danger, fired at the police. Taylor was shot and killed in her apartment that night.

Major cities across the country saw major demonstrations spurred by the anger against the justice system.

A grand jury found one officer responsible for wanton endangerment after firing his weapon into neighboring apartments. There were no charges tied directly to Taylor’s death. The lack of charges has angered activists and advocates who are seeking significant police reform to prevent tragedies like this from happening again.

People have become hyper-aware of the issue and are paying attention to the outcomes.

Protest signs in different crowds show that the American people are paying attention. The Black Lives Matter movement became the cause at the forefront of American mentality since George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. Floyd’s death sparked national outrage and renewed energy into fighting to stop the disproportionate violence Black men, women, and children face at the hands of police.

Some motorists have turned violent against the protesters.

Video captured in both Denver and Los Angeles show vehicles driving through crowds of protesters. In Denver, the driver claims to have acted in self-defense after protesters surrounded his car. The driver claims that he did not intend to hurt anyone but reacted when protesters shattered his windshield.

In Louisville, police arrested the only Black woman in the Kentucky state legislature for protesting.

State Rep. Attica Scott was arrested for first-degree rioting, which is a class-D felony. The Louisville Metropolitan Police Department arrested 24 people Thursday night while protesting the decision not to charge the officers. Rep. Scott was arrested with other and charged with first-degree rioting and two misdemeanors for unlawful assembly and failure to disperse.

“Our call to action is to continue to make sure that the city of Louisville understands that we will not go away, that we will continue to demand the defunding of police and the dismantling of this police department because it’s corrupt from the inside out, from the bottom to the top,” Scott told NPR before the grand jury decision. “And it cannot continue to function in the way that it does.”

Taylor’s death has mobilized the nation with celebrities and politicians calling for justice.

The fight for racial justice and a systemic change to our justice and policing systems is ongoing. The people are tired of being scared and are taking a stand with their protests.

If you are out there protesting, send us your videos and photos so we can see your activism in action!

READ: Oprah Winfrey Honors Breonna Taylor With Historic O Magazine Cover

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Twitter’s AIs Prefer Ted Cruz With Boobs And White Skin Over Black

Things That Matter

Twitter’s AIs Prefer Ted Cruz With Boobs And White Skin Over Black

Ever notice how on some social platforms like Twitter or Instagram that you yourself are mysteriously unable to crop your display images on your own? That’s because Twitter prefers to let their algorithms make the decision. Over the weekend users on Twitter discovered the surprising dangers of letting algorithms crop your own images.

Education tech researcher Colin Madland drew attention to the issue while speaking out about how the video-calling program Zoom, often crops the head out of his black person coworker while on calls.

It didn’t take long for Madland and other users to discover that Twitter’s AIs use discriminatory equations to prioritize certain faces as well. In short, the social platform’s AIs prefer white faces over Black ones.

In response to the discoveries, a Twitter spokesperson acknowledged that the company was looking into the issue “Our team did test for bias before shipping the model and did not find evidence of racial or gender bias in our testing. But it’s clear from these examples that we’ve got more analysis to do. We’re looking into this and will continue to share what we learn and what actions we take,” they stated.

Of course, Madland’s discovery is nothing new. In 2019, test results from the National Institute of Standards and Technology revealed that some of the strongest algorithms online were much more likely to confuse the faces of Black women than those of white women, or Black or white men. “The NIST test challenged algorithms to verify that two photos showed the same face, similar to how a border agent would check passports,” Wired points out. “At sensitivity settings where Idemia’s algorithms falsely matched different white women’s faces at a rate of one in 10,000, it falsely matched black women’s faces about once in 1,000—10 times more frequently. A one in 10,000 false match rate is often used to evaluate facial recognition systems.”

Still, it didn’t take long for users on the platform to ask what other physical preferences Twitter has.

Turns out the AIs prefer Ted Cruz with large anime breasts over a normal-looking Ted Cruz.

(To better understand this Tweet, click the link above)

The user who tested the image of Cruz, found that Twitter’s algorithm on the back end selected what part of the picture it would showcase in the preview and ultimately chose both images of Cruz with a large anime chest.

It’s nothing new that Twitter has its massive problems.

For a platform that so controls and oversees so much of what we consume and how we now operate, it’s scary to know how Twitter chooses to display people with different skin tones. The round of jokes and Twitter experiments by users has only revived concerns on how “learning” computer algorithms fuel real-world biases like racism and sexism.

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