Safe Spaces and Power

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Two awesome overlapping blog posts showed up on the internet this month!  One by writer, zinester, daydreamer, weirdo, genderqueer, twin, and introvert Maranda Elizabeth and another by the writer, futurist, Youth Editor at Black Girl Dangerous Janani.

Both posts are about creating safe spaces and checking our privilege.

Here’s two tiny pieces of each article but you should for sure read each one in full…

From Janani’s “Introverts and Extraverts and Power (oh my!)” on Black Girl Dangerous:

If you’ve been following Facebook, Buzzfeed, Tumblr, or other rummage piles of the Internet recently, you’ve probably seen a lot of articles about introverts and extraverts: how to categorize them, how to know which one you are, the misconceptions that are harbored about each.  There’s even a piece going around about ‘ambiverts‘; they seem kind of like the genderqueers of the -vert universe.  There are plenty of writers and Facebook statuses also reminding us that your -vert status is a spectrum, and you shouldn’t let yourself be defined by a binary system.  I get it, this is a fun way to think about our personalities and the ways we relate to others.  It can also be empowering.  For me, letting people know I’m fairly introverted can soften the blow when I need to say something like: ‘hey, it’s not at all that I hate you–it’s just that I can’t handle having conversations with twenty different people at the party you’re hosting right now, and everyone’s probably going to mistake my silence for pretentiousness or judginess.’

And Maranda Elizabeth’s “No Space Will Ever Be 100% Safe or Accessible, But…” on their blog:

We’ll all have different ideas about what makes a space safer emotionally. Personally, there is no space in the world, not even my own home, that I consider 100% safe emotionally. I do, however, believe it’s something we can all try our damndest to create. My idea of an emotionally safe space is, beyond being accessible both physically & financially as detailed above, a space that must be free of all forms of oppressive language & behaviours, and if these things occur, we need to be able to discuss them without defensiveness or whininess (either in the moment or further down the road – there are many different and valuable approaches to these conversations). We need to admit that this can awkward and uncomfortable and deal with it anyway. It also means we must understand deep down that we don’t know anybody’s experiences or histories but our own, and to not make judgements. Understand that we all have individual and collective intersecting privileges & oppressions; you don’t know what the person you just walked by is dealing with right now, so don’t be a jerk. Because I have multiple invisible illnesses, both mental & physical, I’ve become aware that this is the case with many, many people, and I’ve learned to approach new people and new situations with this in mind.

I’m never, ever going to be able to organize an event that is 100% safe & accessible – there’s no such thing. But I’ll keep on keepin’ on, and I hope you will, too.

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