Black Lives Matter slams public library’s ban on blacks-only meetings as racist
Black Lives Matter activists are slamming the Nashville Public Library’s anti-discrimination policies as racist after they were banned from holding meetings that excluded white people.
Library officials said all meetings at their taxpayer-funded facilities must be open to the general public and news media, but that has outraged members of Black Lives Matter’s Nashville chapter, who have accused the local government of white supremacy, The Tennessean reported.
“Due to white supremacy in our local government, this week’s BLM General Body Meeting location has changed,” reads a notice postedFriday on the group’s Facebook page. “BLM General Body meetings are open to black and non-black people of color only.”
Joshua Crutchfield, a Black Lives Matter organizer, said the group’s only rule is that white people are excluded from attending their meetings. They had several meetings scheduled at the North Branch public library but decided to move to Dixon Memorial United Methodist Church in North Nashville out of protest.
“We were surprised about it, but we shouldn’t have been,” Mr. Crutchfield told The Tennessean of the library’s decision. “We kind of know the history about how this goes in this country. … It’s definitely something we want to make public to tell people what’s going on in the city.”
Sean Braisted, a spokesman for Mayor Megan Barry, said the library system has a policy and that it enforced it properly.
“The issue doesn’t have anything to do with the politics [of Black Lives Matter],” he told The Tennessean. “It’s simply a matter of an open-door, open-meeting policy, and that’s what the library has adhered to.”
But local Black Lives Matter leaders stressed the importance of providing a safe space for members.
“The Nashville Chapter of BLM has this policy in place to center the voices and experiences of people of color that have historically been excluded or segregated within supposedly public spaces,” a statement from the organization reads, The Tennessean reported. “[W]e view these spaces as integral to healing and community building, particularly to those who have experienced racialized violence and ardently maintain this policy as imperative to the work and mission of BLM.”