What Is A POC Space And Who Is it For?

A classmate of mine asked why the proposition for The New School POC safe space wasn't segregation. 

They weren't the only to ask why it wasn't racist that POCs want to have our own community and resources. I started to look more into the proposal, sending it to my friends, signing up, and I noticed that there is a significant amount of backlash against this movement and the proposal. Even though we are the social justice school and all of us have skipped class at least once to go to a protest, there were people who thought the safe space would be "racist" towards white people and just another form of "segregation."

First off, no. 

Not even a little bit.

"Why isn't this like segregation?"

Because here you have a group of students of colors asking for a better and safer community and resources for them to feel comfortable without the societal pressure of whiteness. We live in New York, but that doesn't mean everyone here agrees on racial identity or racial justice. The space isn't like segregation and it's extremely offensive to claim that it is because POCs aren't claiming that they are any better or worse than white people, they just simply want a space to feel comfortable. It does not deny any white student of any opportunity, but it will give people of color a safe place to organize and plan events.

"Why do POCs even need a space?"

Listen, if we take pride in being a social justice school, we need to meet up to that title. This isn't about having a club that meets occasionally or reserving a room once a month and then branding that on admissions pages. This is about having a safe place for POCs to kick back, relax, rise, and write the revolution. It's hard being a POC, regardless of whether one wants to acknowledge that. I'm still the "token" brown friend in many of my classes and friend groups. People still look at me when we're talking about racism, Islamophobia, or mistreatment of POCs in the past. We want this space because we not only want to show solidarity for all the People of Color groups and collectives on campus, but because POCs have never been given a chance to openly engage with each other outside of an organized event. If white people can have fraternities, the rowing team, lacrosse, the young republicans group (etc.), then POCs can have a space for themselves. 

"I'm white but I want to help, how can I do that?"

First off, thanks. Historically, white allies have been able to give their platform to POCs in order to get administrative attention. You can first sign the petition here, and you can help spread the word to other students. The important thing is to talk about it and show the administration that you stand in solidarity with POCs. This isn't a race war. This isn't Whites Vs. Everyone Else. This is a chance for white people to show their support in the long-winded fight for equality. Stay updated, stay informed, attend the forums, reach out to a friend and ask how you can help. Join the cause, because it's important and it affects the people around you. 

"Are white people never allowed into the space?"

No, there is not a computer screen that scans your face and says you can't come in if you're white. If a person of color feels comfortable with you attending a meeting or invites you to that area, you are more than welcome to come in. However, this isn't a space for you. This is a space that will make POCs feel comfortable against the white supremacy that happens every day in every institution in the world. 

"So what's next?"

Honestly, I don't know. Hopefully, the Dean will show her solidarity with the POC collectives across this school and an adequate space will be dedicated to POCs. But in the tragically unfortunate situation that this does not happen, the fight still goes on. We will still search for equality on campus and you can join in and show your solidarity. This isn't a one-time event, or a sudden cry for equality, this is a long going battle we've all experienced and it's just the first step into the right direction.