On Friday August 10 2018, actor and playwright Emma Dennis-Edwards alleged on Twitter that she had faced racist treatment during a Mash House event in Edinburgh. The event, ‘Hotline’, which took place on August 9, was advertised as aiming to “create a night inclusive and representative of women/LGBTQ/POC!”
Emma’s tweets claimed that the Mash House “have the cheek to use an image of Black women on your poster for your event and claim PoC are welcome when actually your patrons and security are anti-black”. After contacting Emma to follow up on the few tweets posted, we received a response that outlined encounters with both a hostile attendee and two security guards.
Emma and her friend Rachel Nwokoro, , director of Fringe show Funeral Flowers, decided to go to the Mash House based on the POC friendly environment advertised. When asked what happened during the event, Emma reported the following:
“As we were leaving up the stairs, a woman who looked to be of South Asian and White heritage said to my director Rachel ‘you look like you want to kill me’ as we walked past her. Rachel hadn’t spoken to her or seen her so it was very much out of the blue. Rachel asked her why she would say that and the girl in question implied that it was joke and that she was messing around, the girl was very loud and quite rude in her approach. Rachel expressed that it didn’t seem very fair to make jokes at other people’s expense, particularly people you don’t know. Then we walked away to work out where we were going to go next. The girl then stood up and directed towards myself and Rachel ‘Told us to get out of her town’.”
As Emma and Rachel asked what gave the woman the impression that they weren’t from Edinburgh, the woman was reportedly unable to reply. When Rachel then asked the woman if she “had a problem with black women coming to her town,” the woman very loudly responded, screaming multiple times, that “yes, that’s right — I do have a problem with black women.”
When challenged on her racism, the women allegedly responded that her “granddad called her a ch*nk, so don’t tell me anything about racism.” At this point, Rachel raised her voice to respond to the woman and only then did security guards become involved. The guards were being “very aggressive” towards Emma. As Emma tried to recount the incident to the guards, they “refused to listen and began shouting at me.”
When asked why the security guard was shouting and refusing to listen to Emma and Rachel’s explanation, the guard responded that “he was not listening to you [Emma] anymore,” instead tuning to a white man and asking what had happened.
While the security guards and other woman have not been identified, Emma commented on how this behaviour “does not surprise her in Edinburgh. Black people at the festival have faced many incidents of racial abuse out of cars and in bars and clubs” she said.
Mash House has yet to respond with regards to the event, both to Emma and to The Student.
Photo: Hajira Kamran