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.