News Brief

Sudanese Model Ajak Deng Recounts Her Frightening Experience with Police Brutality

“I had to go through this alone. I have to be the strongest black wom(an I can be by myself.” (Read the transcript inside)

Sudanese supermodel Ajak Deng, who announced earlier this year that she’s done with the fashion industry because of “fakes and lies” but then reversed her decision to quit a week later, has turned her attention police brutality in light of the recent killing of Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man from Baton Rouge, by police.

In a series of emotional Instagram videos posted a week ago, Deng recounts her own frightening experience with two white police officers while exiting a cab in Manhattan a couple of years ago.

Here’s a transcript of the Melbourne-based model’s encounter.

Video 1:

The reason why I feel extremely bad for Alton Sterling is because I’ve been through what he had went through except he didn’t survive. I ended up surviving. Thank God I survived. Two years ago I was almost killed by two white police officers in front of my building trying to get out of the taxi from Manhattan to Brooklyn after work.

I called my agency, no one was there to answer. I called my agent, she answered. And guess what she said? ‘White people love black people. It is all in your head. Relax. Breathe. Let it go (with anger). We love you.”

What the fuck are you talkin’ about? Do you see my arm? Do you see why my arms are dark like that? Really, do you see this? Do you want to see my knees? Like honey I’ve been through this. That’s why it is so painful for me to deal with it and I hate it so much. And it’s frustrating! But you know what no one is there to protect me.


A video posted by AJAK DENG (@ajak_deng) on

Video 2:

I was so heartbroken until this day. I’m so heartbroken. I can never speak to the same people that I thought that loved me. I can never express my true feelings to the people that really ‘think’ that they love me. So therefore what do I have to do? We have to support each other.

Yes, I still have white friends. Yes, I still have everyone else as friends. But at the same time, know that you stand on your own ground. I stand on my own ground. You do what you got to do for your own being (points directly at camera), and I do what I gotta do for my own being.

Therefore if you don’t want to give me your money, so be it! Take your money! At the end of the day I’m just going to be killed the next day, right? That’s fine cause I’ll be killed trying to sell cigarettes to buy a sandwich. I’ll be killed trying to sell whatever. So. Peace. (makes peace sign). Stop.

A video posted by AJAK DENG (@ajak_deng) on

Video 3:

And my parents don’t understand because they have never been to America you know? I have to go through this alone. I have to be the strongest black woman I can be. By myself without my agency support, without my agent’s support and without my parents without anyone’s support. And I went through that and I think we can get through this as humanity. And together I think we can do anything we can.

If I can do it alone I know you can and this is why I feel so bad for this man. I’m so heartbroken because it makes me realize that if my neighbor did not open his window that night to film what they were doing to me I would have never been alive today. And that’s what breaks my heart. I’m so grateful to be alive. I’m so grateful that I have a chance to make a difference.


A video posted by AJAK DENG (@ajak_deng) on

Video 4:

Because everyone I know in my life calls me intense. Call me crazy. Call me stupid. They call me extremely—too extreme—because I have to learn how to defend myself because if I don’t defend myself who will?

You can not defend me as my friend. Will you? No. You will never. Will you as a white friend? I don’t think so. Will you protect me as a black friend. No. Never because you know what. It’s better not to say anything at all.

Why? Because you want to pay your rent the next month and you want to pay your bills and everything and it’s OK not to say anything else. It’s better to keep quiet. Because if you want the white man’s money. If you want the racist white man’s money to be exact then honey, keep your mouth shut. Keep going and make sure to lick some ass on the way, yeah. Kiss them.

A video posted by AJAK DENG (@ajak_deng) on

Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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