In my previous Black Ballad article, I discussed the importance of safe spaces for marginalised groups and the necessity for their constant defence, especially in the current climate that normalises the attack and undermining of them.
Political institutions and universities continuously fail to incorporate black women into the mainstream and, in turn, attempt to weaken our efforts to create our own spaces. In fact, it is black women who create and maintain these spaces because no one else will. Even the term ‘safe space’ goes far beyond the distorted idea that they simply create echo chambers that are rendered unproductive and even dangerous for cultivating a simplistic one-sided dialogue. I treat safe spaces as a means of survival. Whilst there are no strict parameters for what a safe space should look like, there is a feeling that your humanity is recognised when you step into it: there is something unspoken and yet mutually understood.
I was lucky enough to attend a conference entitled Black Feminism, Womanism and the politics of Women of Colour in Europe hosted in Amsterdam at the beginning of October. The conference covered a range of topics from self-care in activism to sex work. Over 160 women/women identifying people attended the conference. The most noteable workshops I attended examined political policies impacting on black women’s accessibility to healthcare across in France and the U.K. One speaker M. Nicole Horsley gave a talk entitled ‘Freak Like Me: (Re)claiming Black Female Pleasure Through Black Femme-ininity and the Black Radical and Ratchet Imagination’ which spoke to the notions of pleasure, pain and what happens when we legitimise black female desire outside of respectability politics. U.K. based poet and activist Siana Bangura educated us on #generationclapback, the generation of young black millennials creating platforms in response to lack of representation of black people in the mainstream.