Singer Lido Pimienta came under fire after she asked people of color to move to the front and white people to move to the back during her performance at the Halifax Pop Explosion festival on October 19.

Pimienta, who was awarded Canada’s Polaris Music Prize, often makes this request at her shows, but some white people in the audience and a white volunteer at the festival got mad and accused her of reverse racism.

The Halifax Pop Explosion music festival issued an apology on October 27, but not to the white people whose feelings were hurt. They apologized to Pimienta because of the disruption caused by the white volunteer, saying, “We will not accept this behaviour and neither should you. 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,” the festival said.

— Is Cardi B already about to throw in the towel? — 

Pimienta has since explained to Billboard the reasoning behind her reshuffling of the audience:

When I started asking womxn to the front, I noticed how white women were usually at the front and brown girls would be behind the white girls, a bit more shy, a bit more restrained. Even at HPX, I had to call out a few black girls who were “too shocked” and felt I was “putting them on the spot” by saying, “Girl come to the front! This is for you!” As an immigrant, as an Afro-Indigenous person, as an intersectional feminist, as a mother and all of the other signifiers that qualify me as “other,” I understand what it is like to not see yourself in the media, to not see yourself in institutions and to not see yourself represented or reflected at a music show, because the “artist of colour” (and I put that in quotation marks because even that term is extremely problematic), we don’t get to see each other at that level.

Pimienta added that while she was “deeply touched” by the festival’s response, there was still plenty of work to be done.

“We are all in a complicated and painful time, but we’re on a necessary path, unlearning patriarchal western ‘civilization’ ways,” she sid. “If we don’t speak up, we will never e v o l v e.”

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