wtf: french officials threatened to cancel afro-feminist festival because they say it’s anti-white

May 30, 2017

After drawing attention from the far right National Front in France, MWASI’s NYANSAPO Festival faced cancellation due to white discomfort. Organized with an objective to build “Afro-feminist strategies to end racial, patriarchal, colonial and capitalist violence,” the MWAAi collective billed three of the four even venues as being exclusive for black women and women and “women experiencing the racist hegemony”. In other words, many of the event spaces are actually safe spaces for black and non-black POC within the typical whiteness of Paris.

Opponents of the festival’s missions, like the National Front and LICRA who both pitched fits on Twitter, have complained that the event is intended to marginalize white people by “prohibiting” their presence. Seemingly more concerned about white people feeling momentarily and inordinately left out of events specifically for black women, on May 28 the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo threatened to shut down the event of the grounds that is was discriminatory against white people. Taking to Twitter, Mayor Hidalgo echoed her right to “prosecute the organizers for discrimination.”

One blogger points out that the events were white patrons aren’t invited to are actually workshops made to address the specific experiences of black women, so why would white patrons need or want to attend them in the first place? “Contrary to what Madam Hidalgo says, the afro-feminist festival which she questions is not forbidden to whites, but some workshops are “for black women” and that’s your twisted mind that turns in into “prohibited to the whites”. But to what account, why not also say that it is forbidden to men?” asks Le blog de João.

For now, NYANSAPO Festival still plans to take place July 28-30, as Mayor Hidalgo concedes that the non-mixed black femme-centered events take place on private property. Help them raise money for the event, here. And learn more about attending it, here.

By Erin White*, AFROPUNK contributor


*Erin White is an Atlanta-based writer and AFROPUNK’s editorial and social media assistant. You can follow her on Tumblr or friend her on Facebook. Have a pitch or an inquiry? Shoot her an email at erin@afropunk.com.