Preserving Black Spaces
In 2016 I really began to think about the importance of maintaining spaces that are strictly for us. In the midst of my 20s living in an urban city, there are a ton of black events for millennials to enjoy. Black spaces hold power, freedom, and joy, while allowing for healing amongst each other.
It feels as if black spaces that do not state they are exclusively black are always endanger of being victims to “white inclusion”. White Inclusion is the result of white people not being invited or given the option to be a part of something that is not for them. For example, many consider AfroPunk to be a safe space and haven of black culture, allowing us to be unapologetic in our blackness. However, I was thrown off at AfroPunk 2016 in Brooklyn by the large number of white people in attendance. While there were no problems, I still found their presence to be very intrusive. It was not just their general presence, but more so the drastic costuming that left me feeling upset by their presence.
AfroPunk is a safe space for black people to feel free in their skin. Going to AfroPunk and seeing young people of color being free and living in their comfort is to put it simply, beautiful. To witness white people their who are dressed up as if at a costume party shows the lack of understanding. Don't get me wrong AfroPunk is home of versatile fashion, but I personally, would prefer to not be surrounded by white people wearing dashikis, African print head-wraps, or actual halloween costumes. It blatantly shows the disconnect in understanding appreciation vs. appropriation.
Black people often become too concerned with seeming racist and we allow our spaces to be infiltrated by other people. With AfroPunk now being mainstream the amount of white people in attendance will continue to grow. So once again the question remains:
where are our spaces?
Spaces for us to experience joy, hurt, sadness, love, excitement etc. Spaces for our blackness to be unapologetically celebrated together.
I think that we as black people need to step up in making sure that when we are trying to create and have spaces of our own, we don't continue to let the idea of integration stop us. There are somethings that we need to be just for us.
I feel like Solange says it best in her song FUBU off of her new album, "don't feel bad if you can't sing along".