A music festival in Halifax, Canada has apologized for “overt racism” following a volunteer staffer’s refusal to move to the back because she is Caucasian.
According to the National Post, performer Lido Pimienta, who won the 2017 Polaris Prize, frequently asks all white members of her audience to move to the back and give up their seats to non-white audience members. They must do so regardless of whether they pay more for their seating.
The Halifax Pop Explosion music festival is apologizing for the actions of a photographer who refused to acquiesce to Pimienta’s request during her October 19 show. Her refusal to do so was considered an “interruption” and deemed an act of “overt racism,” according to the festival’s board of directors, who are now promising to make changes to the event.
The board promises to improve “anti-oppression and anti-racism training” for their staff next year, essentially asking them to give in to the demands of people who supposedly face more oppression than they do.
“We are sorry that one of our volunteers interrupted your art, your show, and your audience by being aggressive and racist,” wrote vice-chairman Georgie Dudka on Facebook.
Dear attendees, fans, artists, staff, volunteers, and folks otherwise involved in the Halifax Pop Explosion. On…
The festival states that the volunteer photographer and several other members of the audience reacted poorly to Pimienta’s urging for them to move to the back. Pimienta invited “brown girls to the front.” When the volunteer refused, Pimienta took it upon herself to remove her from the event.
Dudka wrote: “They have since received notification from the festival that they are no longer welcome to volunteer with us.”
“We will not accept this behaviour and neither should you,” he added. “Be responsible for your friends – talk to them and support them as they move towards unpacking their racism. People of Colour deserve safe spaces and it is your responsibility to help. It is also ours.”
According to Allie O’Manique, who tours with Pimienta and attended the show, the female photographer’s refusal to remove herself from the spot near the front prompted other audience members near her to become enraged over her insistence of staying.
“She just kept saying, ‘Move to the back,’” said O’Manique. “Finally after saying it about 10 times — and the woman refused to move — (Pimienta) said, ‘You’re cutting into my set time and you’re disrespecting these women, and I don’t have time for this.’”
An audience member who was one of the women invited to the front told National Post that she was surprised by the photographer’s refusal to move and blamed it on the crowd for believing in the concept of “reverse racism.”
“I don’t know if I would say it can be attributed to the crowd Pop Explosion gets, or more so just the sort of people that exist in Halifax and the mindsets that prevail here,” she said.