The woman in the picture

ChhIS7FW0AEhEsB.jpg_largeThis woman.

Look at her. What hope she instills. Look at that not-today, not-on-my-street stance, that I-will-not-make-way-for-you bearing, that devil-may-care pose.

Look at that buzz cut. The knitted jumper and the leather sleeves. A bag casually thrown over her shoulder. Look at that steely-eyed resolution, the defiant chin, the raised fist. The fist. An homage to Nelson Mandela, by her own account, though it might as well be an homage to generations of protesting workers, Black Panthers, anti-fascists, and others who have assembled in solidarity.

Although her body language is unmistakable, the image becomes more clear when you learn that the three men she’s facing are the front men of the Nordic Resistance Movement, a white supremacist group. And furthermore, behind them follows a procession of some 330 neo-Nazis. And facing them down is this one woman.

Her name is Maria-Teresa Asplund, an anti-racism activist. The day is May 1, 2016, and the encounter between neo-Nazi protesters and anti-racism counter-demonstrators takes place in Borlänge, a small town in central Sweden.

Somehow, because she’s standing there – alone, 165 cm tall, the epitome of resolution – you feel like all is going to be OK.

As long as there is one of her for every 300 neo-Nazis, all will be well. As long as this gaggle of Scandinavian extremists is met by the refusal – by a single woman and people like her – to make way for their procession, we shall prevail.

Look at her. This woman – an icon in the making – what hope she instills with her fist raised against a hateful current.

The photo is taken by David Lagerlöf, a photographer for Expo. Read more about this moment in English here, and in Swedish here. Or why not learn about the racism and discrimination that afro-Swedes face on a daily basis in this report by Mångkulturellt Centrum.

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