Too white to interview Angela Davis

Angela Davis has been a legendary figure in the feminist and anti-racist movement for 50 years. In 1970, she was accused of participating in a hostage situation in a California court when members of the Brothers of Soledad, African American prisoners associated with the Black Panthers, appeared.

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She is placed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List. But a huge mobilization movement called Free Angela, which will be joined by Louis Aragon, Jean-Paul Sartre and John Lennon, will pull her out of this swamp and set her free after 16 months in prison.

Last Monday, the 78-year-old African-American essayist was invited to the Royal Circus in Brussels to debate in front of young people, artists, civic movements and militant associations. The meeting was supposed to take place in the National Theater but because of the demand it was moved to a room that seats 1700 people.

A few days before his arrival, a group of “black feminists and queer activists published a text on social networks demanding that the moderator of this discussion, Safia Kessas, a Belgian-Algerian journalist for RTBF, be removed from her post.

Reason: The journalist is white.

In the published text, the ten signatories affirm that the election of a “non-black person to dialogue” with Angela Davis represents “new spit in the face of black activists”.

I’ll make a clarification here: Angela Davis saw no problem with a white journalist interviewing her.


The Belgian-Algerian journalist Safia Kessas

Safia Kessas is known for her reports and columns on inequality. Committed to colonial themes, she defines herself as “intersectional”. For several years she has presented chronicles under the title “La granade” (summarized in one book), in which she addresses various topics related to equality, feminism, the reality of old age and diversity.

The event went as planned, but as the presenter received threats, it took place under police surveillance. Apparently, the activist group has trouble with Safia Kessas, who has been accused of “negrophobia,” without giving any examples. She filed a complaint with the police after allegedly being harassed by activists. She is now accused of having written dozens of lyrics about black women to allegedly “prove her tolerance”.

In the text published on Facebook, the activists write: “We strongly question the message sent back to black communities with the election of Safia Kessas. Don’t we have enough skills for you? Aren’t we in the best position to discuss black liberation from white and capitalist supremacy? »

Here we are with the famous issue of ghettoization that some extremist militants are trying to create. Because you’re not black, you can’t talk about black reality. Since you are not a member of the LGBTQ+ community, you cannot understand what these people are going through. Because you’re not a woman, you can’t talk about women’s rights.

What happened in Brussels is reminiscent of the controversy that erupted in March 2021 when a publisher considered entrusting the translation of African-American poet Amanda Gorman (the one who had charmed everyone during Joe Biden’s inauguration) to white Dutch writer Marieke Lucas Rijneveld . Activists quickly showed the translator the exit.

Angela Davis was, of course, invited to speak on this sensitive subject. She believes that “the focus on identities” leads to shortcuts, the magazine reported Marianne Thursday. She also called the culture of exile “disturbing”.

This doyen of activism states that activism is adrift. It’s not going well.

I agree 100% that we are taking to the streets to demand more diversity on stage, on television and in film. I agree 100% that we favor people from minorities to fix a major imbalance in the world of work.

But if we tell those who are not black, gay, trans or disabled that they cannot participate in the debate, especially when it comes to moving things forward, then I am no longer on board. We are on the wrong target. We’re completely derailed.

Extremist militants lay bars on the ground. You kill the debate.

By wanting to fight against cultural appropriation, they accentuate it. These activists eventually tell us that Angela Davis, on whose behalf they have taken a stand (without their consent), is theirs. It belongs to them and only them.

These struggles, waged in the name of progressivism, damage genuine progressive causes. But the activists who lead them don’t see it that way. This is worrying.

After science, culture and science, the left-wing extremists are now attacking the world of ideas. In the name of what? In the name of a utopian ideology that aims to make society just, pure and upright.

There is no doubt that we all want to live in this world. But the problem is that this utopian vision rejects freedom of expression.

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