Black Lives Matter Philly Defends Policy of Banning White, Other Non-Black People from Meetings

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Black Lives Matter Philly’s exclusive meeting policies are reflective of religious groups’ regulations.
(@blmphilly/Instagram)

After a spate of right-wing backlash over Black Lives Matter Philly’s policy that only Black people are welcome at their meetings, the group has been forced to defend itself.

Based in Philadelphia, BLM Philly was the subject of recent articles by conservative media websites like Breitbart and Daily Wire that took issue with the policy advertised for an upcoming April gathering. Each meeting is regularly promoted on BLM Philly’s social media pages as a “black only space.”

Candace McKinley, a 35-year-old member of the group, told Philly.com that exclusively Black meetings are not new but “the outrage about it is new.” She said BLM Philly has been fielding responses to the policy from opposition and supporters.

“We are unapologetically Black and believe having Black-only spaces — where Black people can come together to strategize, organize, heal and fellowship without the threat of violence and co-optation — is an important part of Black liberation,” BLM Philly said in a statement issued on their official Facebook page Wednesday, April 5. “As a chapter, BLM Philly believes in self-determination and organizes in that manner. … Simply put, we don’t need or want others to define what it means for a Black person to be free and liberated in the U.S. We know that. We’ve determined that.”

The statement went on to say non-Black people can show their support in other ways, like advocating for quality housing and improved wages for the Black community.

Asa Khalif, a member of Black Lives Matter Pennsylvania who isn’t associated with BLM Philly, said private meetings are a common practice within BLM as a whole.

“We deal with anti-Blackness every day just being Black in our workspaces and so on,” Khalif, whose Pennsylvania chapter is open to Hispanic attendees, told Philly.com. “That’s why it’s a safe space for us. White allies and other allies who stand with us understand that.”

BLM Philly announced on Twitter that it will no longer participate in the debate over the policy after Thursday, April 6.

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