A Goldsmiths University diversity officer who has faced accusations of racism after banning white people from an event has struck back with a bold claim: It’s literally impossible for a minority woman like herself to be racist.
Bahar Mustafa, a student who also serves as a welfare and diversity officer at the U.K.’s Goldsmiths, attracted widespread attention and condemnation several weeks ago when she planned an event on “diversifying” the school’s curriculum– and asked that white people and men not attend.
“If you’ve been invited and you’re a man and/or white PLEASE DON’T COME just cos I invited a bunch of people and hope you will be responsible enough to respect this is a BME [Black and Minority Ethnic] Women and non-binary event only,” she said at the time. She later posted a photo of herself wiping away fake tears near a sign reading “NO White Cis Men Please.”
Now, after being scrutinized by both U.K. and U.S. media, Mustafa is fighting back. In a statement she read aloud to a gathering of Goldsmiths students, Mustafa said racism is a one-way street.
“There have been charges laid against me that I am racist and sexist towards white men,” she said. ”I, an ethnic minority woman, cannot be racist or sexist towards white men, because racism and sexism describe structures of privilege based on race and gender, and therefore women of color and minority genders cannot be racist or sexist, since we do not stand to benefit from such a system.”
“Reverse racism and sexism are not real,” she added, castigating the media for engaging in a ”witch hunt and shameful character assassination.”
While attending students applauded Mustafa’s statements, it’s not clear the rest of the world is ready to agree with her defense. For starters, dictionaries do not appear to agree with Mustafa’s novel definitions of sexism and racism.
Merriam-Webster defines sexism simply as “prejudice or discrimination based on sex,” while racism is defined as “racial prejudice or discrimination.” Similarly, the Oxford English Dictionary defines racism as “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.” None of these definitions makes any mention of “structures of privilege.”