The topic of creating spaces where Black people can be themselves has been prevalent for decades on end. Many people have questioned why these spaces are being created and others have wondered why there is still a need for them. To keep it simplistic, we have to look at the reasons why these spaces were originally established.
Most of these spaces were created for Black people because they weren’t allowed to be in the ones where the majority resided. Historically Black Colleges or Universities were created because racism and segregation was still prevalent within the education system. Black Greek Organizations were established because there was a lack of inclusion of African Americans within college campuses in regards to all aspects of campus involvement. The question now is: why are these spaces still needed and why are we in 2022 and still having to create more?
One of the main reasons why these organizations and spaces are still around and more are being created is because racism has not died. We live in a world that likes to preach about equality and push for people being true to themselves yet people are constantly discriminated against because of their want for equality and individuality. This also ties in with the fact that civilization has grown around racism.
Most of the things that our country stands for or was built off of has racism embedded in it. So, how could Black people or POC feel as if the already created spaces are opened up to them? Not only does this affect Black people who are looking for a place where they can be accepted, it also affects people who have already found those spaces and now have to deal with the backlash that comes with it.
With any of the hundreds of stereotypes that Black people have stemmed towards them and/or their communities, we are always being labeled as this or that no matter where we go or what we do. This is an issue especially when it comes to finding, being in, and creating these black spaces because, once you’re in it, you immediately have a label placed onto your back.
From having the experience of growing up around mostly white people and never truly feeling like I belonged in any of their environments, I was more than excited to be able to go to High School/College and be apart of clubs and organizations that were meant for black people but, because I had a constant fear of being placed in a box because of the organizations I was in and how heavily they focused on making sure black people had a voice for themselves, I was very worried about how it would look to other people or what type of labels I would receive because I joined these all black organizations.
This is shown whenever there is a large group of Black people gathering and enjoying themselves and, as a result, people say they’re being “ghetto” or immediately assume that they are doing something they don’t need to be. The truly upsetting part of this stereotyping is how it affects the way people feel about being black. I know from personal experience and the fact that most of my childhood consisted of being surrounded by white people, I always felt as though I was not black enough to do a lot of things so, having that feeling tied in with the fact that when I would join these clubs that would enable me to embrace my blackness many people would turn around and attempt to label me as something that I wasn’t, made it extremely difficult to know that no matter what level of blackness I had, it was okay to be black.
To sum up my long winded but very needed point: we will continue to have the need for all black spaces and we will continue to have the need to create more because of the world we live in and the fact that, until people are willing to sit down and have a conversation that doesn’t only speak about the surface level issues of systemic racism and the issues that stem from it, black people–or POC as a whole–will never be fully accepted or ever feel completely comfortable in spaces that were not created for them.