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Friday, July 8, 2016

Segregation Vs. Congregation

Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 43 seconds.

"What you experience is not just in your head; 

I experience it too".

The following is an exchange between a white friend of mine who genuinely wanted an answer to the question of why some spaces are billed as being exclusive to one race or another. I answered her question and she thought it was helpful, so I'm posting here:

Q: I realize this question may seem naive/ignorant... But why can't we all support each other instead of just those that are our race? Shouldn't a support group/protest/rally/vigil be open to all of those who have been touched by the event and/or movement? I'm literally asking because I'm a middle class white girl who desperately wants to understand and help promote change and acceptance and I don't know how.

A: [...]some other groups of people of color have a history of colorism and discrimination against the darker skinned members of any community/black people in general.
Having a space be exclusive to black people is a rare opportunity for people who look like one another and share many of the same grievances to get together and validate one another's feelings by saying, "What you experience is not just in your head; I experience it too". In that moment, not having to explain racial dynamics allows more space and time in the discussion for personal healing from racial trauma, or organizing or any other action the group wants to work on efficiently.
This can cause a derailment of the healing process in the conversation and again shifts the work onto the people of color to convince their white counterparts that they are, in fact, experiencing systematic oppression rather than "unfortunate" isolated incidents.

Also, these discussions often inherently rely on principals of understanding different layers of privilege (wealth, class, race, gender, etc), some of which white people are not fully prepared to accept for a multitude of reasons.

Tl;dr- Allowing other groups of people, especially white people, into POC spaces creates more emotional work for brown people and detracts from the precious little time they have to discuss these matters in the first place.

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