The importance of black spaces

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By: Sey Elemo, Columnist

Have you ever googled the words “beautiful woman,” “beautiful man” or “beautiful kids?” I suggest that you do so before you begin reading this article.

In the world we live in, whiteness is the standard for beauty, wealth, prosperity, and… everything else. It’s all we see in the mainstream. It sends the message that if you aren’t white, or if you don’t look white, you aren’t worthy. It’s hurtful, honestly. Especially for myself, a young, black (in fact, very dark skinned), woman.

Growing up, I was hard-pressed to find people that looked like me on TV or in magazines. You know the spiel. When you aren’t regularly exposed to people that look like you in the media, in leadership roles, high places in general, it’s harder to see envision yourself in those higher positions.

I mean, I did eventually realize that I’m fabulous, but it took me a while to understand that as a black woman, I am still capable of doing anything that anyone else can do. It shouldn’t take years on end to realize that you’re beautiful. It should be something that’s instilled in you by your surroundings, in media and in real life, from a young age.

This is one of the many reasons as to why black spaces are so important! When I hear people, *cough cough* Stacey Dash, call for the end of programming, awards, and organizations that celebrate and focus on black people it genuinely hurts my feelings. Black people are REGULARLY overlooked, yet appropriated (but that’s a conversation for later), in popular music, high fashion and television which is why we need things like Black History Month, Black Girls Rock, Black Student Unions and other safe spaces where black people can celebrate each other.

Why can’t we know what it’s like to look around and see that the standard of beauty and intelligence is in our likeness? If the Oscars, Elle Magazine, or our own college campuses aren’t celebrating us, does this mean we shouldn’t celebrate ourselves? Not at all.

#TheyDontWantUsLoveOurselveSoWeHaveTo

I think it’s important to understand why black spaces are necessary before trying to tear them down. It’s also very important to understand that black love, that is black people loving themselves, does not equal white hate. Black Girls Rock, doesn’t mean that white girls suck, it means that black girls do, in fact, rock, because they do!

Do not disrespect the sanctity of black spaces, they are our livelihood.

Yours in blackness,

A Ratchet Revolutionary

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