Is it ever permissible to exclude?

Is it racist to have a feminist festival that excludes white people?

The Paris mayor, Anne Hidalgo, has called for a black feminist festival in the French capital to be banned, saying it was “prohibited to white people”.

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”.

Is separatism an intermediate step on the road to equality? Do minorities need to exclude the majority at times because otherwise they will always be drowned out?

French anti-racist and antisemitism organisations strongly condemned the festival. SOS Racisme described the event as “a mistake, even an abomination, because it wallows in ethnic separation, whereas anti-racism is a movement which seeks to go beyond race”.

I don’t know. I’m not sure if it really does wallow in ethnic separation, or just enact a desire to be the dominant presence for once.

The cultural centre La Générale, where the event was to be hosted, and the collective Mwasi, which organised the event, said on Sunday they were the “target of a disinformation campaign and of ‘fake news’ orchestrated by the foulest far right”.

“We are saddened to see certain anti-racist associations letting themselves be manipulated like this,” read a statement posted on the Generale website.

A “decolonisation summer camp” in the north-eastern French city of Reims elicited similar outrage last year, as it billed itself as a “training seminar on antiracism” reserved for victims of “institutional racism” or “racialised” minorities – excluding by default white people.

Possibly an outrage too many.

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