SU officer responds to accusations of racism, sexism

Goldsmiths Students’ Union Welfare and Diversity Officer Bahar Mustafa speaking at the Student Assembly on May 5

Goldsmiths SU Welfare and Diversity Officer Bahar Mustafa (with mic) speaking at the Student Assembly. Photo: David Blood

A student official yesterday rejected accusations of racism and sexism which had been levelled at her after she asked men and white people not to attend a Students’ Union event at Goldsmiths.

Bahar Mustafa, 27,  Welfare and Diversity Officer for the SU at Goldsmiths in New Cross, was at the centre of a row after she posted to Facebook to ask anyone who is “a man and/or white” not to attend the April 21 event, which was billed as “inviting students to talk about DIVERSIFYING OUR CURRICULUM”.

At last night’s Student Assembly, Mustafa, surrounded by her supporters, gave a seven-minute address in which she denied that the event was either an “anti-racism rally” or “equality protest”, as it had been characterised in some sections of the media.

There was muted laughter from Mustafa’s supporters when she broached the subject of the accusations of racism and sexism made against her.

Mustafa flatly denied that it was possible for her comments to have been racist or sexist: “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.

“Therefore, women of colour and minority genders cannot be racist or sexist, since we do not stand to benefit from such a system.”

She described the controversy over her Facebook post as “only one in a series of attacks upon minority women on campus.”

Goldsmiths administration had declined to comment on the original incident, saying that: “We have no involvement in [the Union’s] decision-making or the programme of events that they offer.” They confirmed, however, that they had written to the SU to “express concern”.

See Mustafa read her full statement below.

Additional reporting by David Blood.

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