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Safe spaces for Black folks are not negotiable; they are necessary and vital to protect the mental health and support the multi-faceted well-being of Black people. So why is the idea of a Black-only safe space still such a taboo?

Earlier this week, news from Paris, France brought us reports that the mayor, Anne Hidalgo, had condemned a Black feminist festival as being racist for providing a section of it as a safe space for Black women only. Some international anti-racism groups even put out statements claiming that an exclusive space for Black women was racist. Why do people still interpret safe spaces as being this way? The idea of safe spaces have been popping up quite a bit in the last few years, thanks to social justice rhetoric becoming more widely accessible and community-focused initiatives in response to 45's election. Safe spaces, or groups created to support people within a specific community, are not only becoming more popular but are necessary additions to both online and in-person spaces, as targeted violence becomes more of a reality. But not all safe spaces are made equal. For many, safe spaces can often carry nefarious undertones. If they are not crafted specifically to decentralize white supremacy and perpetuating anti-Blackness, no matter how subtle, these can still be violent spaces for Black people to be in. Of course, we recognize this within safe spaces that are open to everyone, but safe spaces touted as being for "all people of color" can carry this as well.

There is nothing gentle about racism and our responses to it don’t warrant subtlety or kindness in return.

By Shannon Barber When it comes to social media etiquette, we are all still learning how to interact with each other while respecting boundaries and the spaces we give ourselves. What has translated over straight from our in-person interactions are racist, sexist and ableist micro and macro aggressions. How do we navigate those? Well it would help if folks with privilege recognized the ways in which they are routinely demanding labor from marginalized people online. In regards to white folks and their anti-blackness, here is a list of 10 ways they can stop annoying people of color on social media: 1. When we post about racism – like being called racist names, racial harassment, feelings about being called racist things or being racially harassed – stop saying you're shocked. Don't say, “I can't believe this still happens”. Don't tell us all the ways you're surprised because you're either lying, or you haven't been paying attention. Don't show us how much you don't listen when we talk with a careless statement of "shock". Think about what it says to us about how you see us before you say something. 2. When we share whatever flavor of racial pain we're in, don't proclaim what a good white person you personally are and go on to tell a story about that time you rescued a poor Black child from the ghetto. We don’t want to hear about that time you bought some jammy pants that gave five cents to an elephant in India or whatever. Just don't do it because it's not about you personally unless you personally caused the problem. If you want to tell your story about what a wonderful white person you are, take it to your own space because we’re not here for it. 3. Related to #2. Say you come across a post on Facebook, and there is a lengthy thread where people of color are going off about how terrible white people are, don't be the white person to #notallwhitepeople the thing. If you are personally offended by the "stereotyping" and "generalizations" of a group of people either sharing their pain or cracking jokes about Whitey, calm the hell down. There is not a comment thread long enough full of things like BECKY NO!  You, singular Good White Person, cannot be the savior of Whiteness.

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