An anti-racism event in Edinburgh Scotland is under fire on social media…for allowing speakers to participate, as long as they are the right race. The event banned white people from speaking, and while the theme was on avoiding racism, organizers seem to have missed the point they were trying to make.
According to the UK-based Telegraph, the event was held at Edinburgh University, and white people were specifically banned from asking questions. This is not entirely surprising, since the group holding the event is called “Resisting Whiteness”
Just in case any white people tried to sneak in and speak, the event also had several “safe spaces” which barred white people from entering. According to the Resisting Whiteness group, the safe spaces are needed, because participants who are not white need a place to escape from any white people who entered – the safe spaces are there to keep people with the right skin color from feeling “overwhelmed/overstimulated or uncomfortable.”
The event, which included talks, conferences and workshops, along with the safe spaces, was held at the Pleasance Theatre and described by organizers as a way to combat racism. According to Resisting Whiteness, the goal of the event was to amplify voices of color:
“We will therefore not be giving the microphone to white people during the Q&As, not because we don’t think white people have anything to offer to the discussion, but because we want to amplify the voices of people of color,” the event’s description read.
To make sure that no pesky white people tried to ask questions or talked, any comments could be filtered through a committee after the public discussion ended:
“If you are a white person with a question, please share it with a member of the committee or our speakers after the panel discussion.”
According to local anti-racism groups not affiliated with Resting Whiteness, the event itself was hypocritical:
“It sets back the battle to achieve equality and fairness by decades, all because of the actions of a tiny group of extremists, whose perverse sense of logic has led them to belittle white people, not by who they are as individuals, by merely because of their skin color,” activist Jane McColl said. “Imagine if this event was called ‘Resisting Blackness’ and non-white people were told they could not ask questions, nor access a room because they were the ‘wrong’ color.”
When asked about the event, the University of Edinburgh said that racism was an important topic.
“We have expressed our concerns to them about certain aspects of the format of the event and they are revising their ‘safe space’ policy for the conference as a result.”
The University did not mention which format factors was of concern or if events that restricted attendees based on race would be allowed in the future.