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The Buzz Cut: How Protesters Reimagined Dissent In 2020

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Jan 2, 2021

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Image Credit: Justin Chin/Bloomberg

In The Buzz Cutwe bring you a round-up of all the weird, controversial, and wonderful stories we’ve been reading all week.


Carrying over from 2020, protesters in Hong Kong — rallying against an extradition policy to mainland China that would endanger dissidents in Hong Kong — used a number of ingenious ways to protect themselves from the police on the streets. Among them, iconic umbrellas, used as shields against tear gas and rubber bullets.

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In April, Israeli protesters conducted what was widely referred to as the world’s first socially distanced protest, railing against rampant corruption in the Netanyahu administration. It was a sight to behold.

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A Chilean anti-rape anthem went viral at the beginning of the year, as women around the world (including in India) translated it into their own languages and performed it in the streets. It goes: “The rapist is you, the rapist is you. It’s the police, the judges, the state, the president. The oppressive state is a macho rapist.”

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In Delhi, India, women released 10,000 black balloons in protest of the NRC-CAA, as much of the nation mobilized against the government’s efforts to disenfranchise Muslims.

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In March, thousands of women in Mexico “disappeared” from everyday life — staying home from work, not visiting grocery stores, not attending schools — to protest the invisibilization of sexual violence.

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In India, the current wave of farmers’ protests began with unconventional, tongue-in-cheek tactics to oppose new laws that threaten their livelihoods. Among the ploys: using cutouts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s face on scarecrows in their fields.

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Nonviolent protest took an aesthetic, overwhelming form in Belarus, when thousands of protesters formed human chains and marched with flowers in hand against their president, whose actions prompted the European Union to consider harsher sanctions against the country.

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The Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. took a jubilant turn when protesters started gathering to dance the electric slide as a display of activism. Dance gradually became a major way protesters showed solidarity with each other and for the BLM cause.

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In London, climate activists positioned thousands of children’s shoes in Trafalgar Square to illustrate the lives that are at stake if the government keeps dragging its heels on climate action, making for a powerful, chilling sight.

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Written By Rajvi Desai

Rajvi Desai is The Swaddle’s Culture Editor. After graduating from NYU as a Journalism and Politics major, she covered breaking news and politics in New York City, and dabbled in design and entertainment journalism. Back in the homeland, she’s interested in tackling beauty, sports, politics and human rights in her gender-focused writing, while also co-managing The Swaddle Team’s podcast, Respectfully Disagree.

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