Goldsmiths Students' Union diversity officer explains she cannot be racist or sexist to white men because she is an ethnic minority woman

Bahar Mustafa has criticised the backlash she received after requesting white men do not turn up to an event organised by the union for BME students

James Rush
Tuesday 12 May 2015 14:31 BST
Bahar Mustafa, welfare and diversity officer at Goldsmiths Students' Union
Bahar Mustafa, welfare and diversity officer at Goldsmiths Students' Union (Bahar Mustafa/Facebook)

A students' union diversity officer who found herself at the centre of a racism row after requesting white people do not turn up to an event has said she cannot be racist to white men because she is an ethnic minority woman.

Bahar Mustafa faced a backlash after she wrote a request on Facebook for white men not to attend a Goldsmiths University students' union event for black and ethnic minority students in April.

According to reports at the time, Ms Mustafa posted a message on Facebook which read: "Hey, I made as many of you hosts so please invite loads of BME Women and non-binary people!!

"Also, 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 Women and non-binary event only."

Ms Mustafa added: "Don't worry lads we will give you and allies things to do", followed by a winky face emoji.

In a video recently uploaded on local news website however, Ms Mustafa has described the backlash as "an outrageous distortion of fact".

In the seven-minute video, Ms Mustafa also refuted any accusation of racism and sexism', claiming "reverse racism and reverse sexism are not real".

In a presentation made in front of fellow students, Ms Mustafa said: "Furthermore, there have been charges made against me that I am racist and sexist to white men.

"I want to explain why this is false. I, an ethnic minority woman, cannot be racist or sexist towards white men, because racism and sexism describes structures of privilege based on race and gender.

"And therefore women of colour and minority genders cannot be racist or sexist because we do not stand to benefit from such a system.

"In order for our actions to be deemed racist or sexist, the current system would have to be one that enables only people of colour and women to benefit economically and socially on such a large scale and to the systematic exclusion of white people and men, who for the past 400 years would have to have been subjected to block colonisation.

"We do not live in such a system, we do not know of such a history, reverse racism and reverse sexism are not real."

The students' union has also refuted any accusation of discrimination and said it is reviewing the way it communicates such events "to avoid any future misunderstandings."

In a statement posted on its website, the union said: "Goldsmiths Students' Union places huge importance on equality and diversity. It is in this vein that we host spaces where specific minority groups who experience similar discrimination can talk together confidently about overcoming the structural disadvantages and prejudice they face in society.

"These types of initiatives are the norm across the student movement and within Students' Unions in the UK. The National Union of Students has full-time officers and campaigns for students who identify as women, BME, LGBT and disabled as they too see the need for these spaces.

"As well as the meeting we held this week of the BME forum, there will also be public meetings held alongside where everyone is welcome and that are attended by a wide range of students.

"We are reviewing the way these events are communicated to avoid any future misunderstandings.

"Challenging societal inequality has been at the core of our campaigns and we try to do this pro-actively in our everyday work, so the accusation that we discriminate is one we refute wholeheartedly."

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in