By Abi Law- Reporter
On 15th April this year a tweet went out from the Welfare and Diversity Officer at Goldsmiths University of London that might cause some to gasp in shock and others nod in agreement. I am in the former camp.
The tweet in question stated that men and white people should not turn up to a diversity meeting. The officer in question, Bahar Mustafa, claimed that ethnic minority women and non-binary people do not feel comfortable expressing their views about their experiences when in the presence of the aforementioned banned people.
Now on the surface this sounds like a perfectly reasonable request with understandable reasoning. It’s especially understandable with recent tensions and fear of multi-cultural society shown with the rise of parties like UKIP.
However, I do not agree that segregating people is the way to deal with the problems faced by people of ethnic minorities and those who identify as non-binary. By doing this you are doing to none minority people that that has been done to you.
Being from Burnley I have seen what bad race relations can do to a town. In 2001 a large riot between Asian and white youths erupted with cars set alight and businesses targeted with fire bombs.
Before this event there was little warning or clues that the tension was there, possibly because those who felt repressed or faced intolerance only discussed it with others in the same situation. The only possible pre-warning to this eruption of anger was the increase in the vote for the BNP. After this event Burnley council put massive efforts into bridging this gap by getting people from both sides of the conflict together to talk through the problem. This along with efforts to get children from both sides to become friends has slowly started to heal the rift and Burnley is starting to get better.
Another reason I do not agree with Bahar’s request is because it works off the premise that only ethnic minorities or non-binary people suffer from intolerances. While I may be white, I have faced racism. What people tend to forget is that racism is discrimination based on race, the definition does not specify what race. I have had people call me a slut simply because I am white and apparently all white girls are sluts. How is this different from more ‘traditional’ strands of racism? The answer is, it isn’t!
It is all racism and it can all be a form of oppression if you stop people from doing things due to their race. By Bahar banning people who are male or white from coming to the event she is oppressing the right of those people to be part of the discussion. I do not believe this is justified or right. Fighting oppression with oppression is not the answer.
The answer would be to include these people in the discussion and get them to explain their reason for their views. By doing this you may be able to explain why their viewpoint is wrong and show them exactly how much they are hurting people with their views.