An Afro-feminist collective planned to hold a festival in Paris in July but has been condemned by the city’s mayor for seeking to limit 80% of the festival space to black women only. From the Guardian:
The first edition of the Nyansapo Festival, due to run from 28-30 July at a cultural centre in Paris, bills itself as “an event rooted in black feminism, activism, and on (a) European scale”.
Four-fifths of the festival area will be set aside as a “non-mixed” space for black women, according to its website. Another space will be a “non-mixed” area for black people regardless of gender. Another space would be “open to all”.
The English version of the site does not use the word “non-mixed”, but “reserved”.
After people on the right reacted to word of the conference online, Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who is a socialist, threatened to sue the collective to prevent them from holding the event. She was joined in her opposition by civil rights and anti-racist groups. From the Associated Press:
In a series of angry tweets on Sunday, Mayor Anne Hidalgo said she would call on authorities to prohibit the three-day cultural festival scheduled for July. Hidalgo said she might call for the prosecution of its organizers on grounds of discrimination.
“I firmly condemn the organization of this event in Paris (that’s) ‘forbidden to white people,’” Hidalgo wrote…
Prominent French rights organization SOS Racism was among civil rights groups condemning the festival, calling it “a mistake, even an abomination, because it wallows in ethnic separation, whereas anti-racism is a movement which seeks to go beyond race.”
The International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA), meanwhile, called the festival a “regression” and said American civil rights icon “Rosa Parks must be turning in her grave.”
The group that organized the conference is blaming the blowback on a campaign organized by the right. They also claim the mayor has no jurisdiction over the event because the segregated portions are in buildings not owned by the city. From the Root (which says “Paris is buggin” for rejecting the festival):
Defending their event in a statement, Mwasi noted that no one seemed to have a problem with (white) women-only groups and also said they were “saddened to see some anti-racist associations let themselves be manipulated.”…
Mwasi further notes that only the public event is to take place in a venue owned by the city of Paris, and therefore the mayor has no jurisdiction over the others.
Clearly there is a divide between the far left which believes intersectionality justifies a no-whites-allowed approach and a more mainstream view held by the mayor of Paris and major rights organizations in France which see this as a “regression.” The debate is happening in Paris but also here in the U.S. on college campuses.
For instance, former communications professor Melissa Click became national news when she called for “muscle” to prevent a student journalist from filming a tent city set up by a group of black students in the middle of the University of Missouri campus. Click defended her behavior on the grounds that there were other professors doing the same thing that day, i.e. protecting a segregated safe space set up by a minority group. More recently, we saw a college in Olympia, Washington planning a Day of Absence in which whites were to be asked to leave so campus would become a kind of safe space for minorities.
Until recently, I’d have said it was a given that what amounts to “no whites allowed” was an intolerant and unacceptable view in the same way that “no blacks allowed” would immediately (and correctly) be judged racist. But it seems that’s no longer the case, at least it can’t be assumed to be the case as there are people advocating a different view both here and abroad.