The Nyansapo Festival was meant to be three straight days of French black girl magic in the heart of the nation, Paris.
Its organizers described the event as “rooted in black feminism, activism and on [a] European scale” where “lasting strategies and solidarities” would be developed.
In an effort to ensure that the festival served black women, the event’s organizers decided to set up debates and seminars within the greater festival just for black women.
That’s what you’d call creating a safe space, right?
The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, who incidentally is the first woman to be mayor of that city, wasn’t having it.
No, she’s not onboard with black feminism, it would seem.
On Twitter, she decried the event, writing that it was unacceptable because it was “interdir aux blancs,” or “forbidden to whites."
“I’m asking for this festival to be banned,” the mayor said according to The Guardian, adding that her office might even go so far as “to prosecute the organizers for discrimination.”
Because God forbid that in former imperialistic superpower France, there be some space where the descendants of those they colonized be allowed to gather alone.
Who knows what evil they could get up to?
Maybe even a new Berlin Conference, except this time these black feminists might carve up Europe!
Also up in arms are a bevy of French anti-racism and antisemitism organisations.
The International League Against Racism and Antisemitism went so far as to say that “Rosa Parks would be turning in her grave” over the event, perhaps forgetting that she herself was a black feminist.
The main hall for the event and the group putting the festival on, Mwasi, said over the weekend that they were saddened to find themselves the “target of a disinformation campaign and of ‘fake news’ orchestrated by the foulest far right.”
Mwasi also stressed that although some elements of the festival were closed to those that weren’t black women, all the events taking place in public spaces would be open to all.
Today, The Washington Post reports Mayor Hidalgo met with Mwasi, and announced that she’d brokered a compromise with the group: that some elements of the festival would be closed to those that weren’t black women, but that all the events taking place in public space would be open to all.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is: Mwasi says despite the mayor’s claims of a grand bargain, they didn’t move “an inch,” and that the mayor’s plan simply reflects “what was planned from the beginning.”
Talk about imperialism of ideas. But sometimes you just have to let the power think they have all the answers, we suppose.
So, fortunately, the festival is still on. If you speak French and are a black feminist and will be in Paris at the end of July, you can find out more about the event on Mwasi’s website.