Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has found herself under fire from social media users after she recently blasted organizers of a black feminist festival, accusing them of racism.
The Nyansapo Festival, which is slated to run from 28 to 30 July at a cultural center in Paris, France, has been organized by the Mwasi Collective, an Afro-feminist group, and aims to offer a platform for black feminists to champion sociopolitical strategies that will help address their marginalization and oppression.
— Mwasi-Collectif (@MwasiCollectif) May 31, 2017
The mayor appears to have taken issue with the fact that 80 percent of activities at the event will be reserved for black women, while another segment will be set aside for black people only.
In a tweet, Hidalgo strongly condemned the festival, saying it was “forbidden for whites”. She also called for its immediate ban and even suggested that she could prosecute its organizers for discrimination.
Festival #Nyansapo : à la suite de mon intervention ferme hier auprès des organisateurs, une solution claire a été établie.
— Anne Hidalgo (@Anne_Hidalgo) May 29, 2017
But although majority of the segments are reserved for black women and women of color, the final segment of the event will be open to all races, according to Mwasi Collective.
They insist that the limited access to some segments of the festival is meant to allow black women to engage in open, candid conversations about their unique challenges and struggles without being judged by others.
Change of Heart
On Monday, after what she claimed to be “firm discussions” with Mwasi Collective, Mayor Hidalgo said a “clear solution” had been reached and the event will be allowed to go on as initially planned.
“The festival organized in a public place will be open to all. Non-mixed workshops will be held elsewhere, in a strictly private setting,” read a translated version of one of her tweets on Monday.
However, Mwasi Collective has come out to condemn Hidalgo’s claim that the change of plan was as a result of her conversation with the organizers, saying they had already intended to hold the non-mixed workshops in a private property.
“After lying about the Afro-feminist festival ‘banning whites’, [the] Mayor of Paris lied again, claiming she forced us to change the event,” reads a statement sent to Huffington Post by Mwasi Collective.
The Mayor’s embarrassing turnaround has drawn a lot of criticism from twitter users, with some people accusing her of trying to falsely take credit for the new plan.
— Steve Garner (@SteveGarner5) May 29, 2017
It is not the first time that Mwasi Collective is finding itself in this kind of controversy. In 2016, the group organized a three-day “un-colonial” retreat, which was only open to people of color.
Although the retreat went ahead as planned, it generated a lot of criticism, especially from European anti-racism groups.