Like a Tsurezuregusa for a philosophy grad student.
black panthers always look like they’re 3000% done with everything
am i supposed to care about your problems
i give up
Bertrand Russel (via occult101)
Osho (via yogachocolatelove)
I take for granted that spaces have an affective feeling about them that emerges from the unity of the elements within that space. To call a space “our own,” is to say that our embodiment, the way we are, does not disrupt the unity of that space: we do not stand out in reference to the space as background. So, when we speak of a “safe space,” we are speaking of a space where we are not only comfortable, but our embodiment is reinforced, validated, and enriched by dwelling within that space. Our lives are given additional meaning through inhabiting a “safe space.”
But that doesn’t mean that all space “for” particular bodies will be “safe spaces:” I think there is a tacit assumption that the materiality of a particular body (physical, etc) implies a capacity to fit into spaces that are intended “for” those bodies, point blank. This is an easy thing to bear witness to when we consider movements like Trans-exclusionary feminism, “white” feminism, queer feminism, black feminism, and the splintering of movements and spaces “for” women along lines of difference. It is my assumption that the splintering of these “safe spaces” emerges because they are not actually “safe” in the sense I indicated above.
Pointing to feminism is, at least to me, the low hanging fruit: thinkers of color and across the sexuality spectrum have indicated the way in which feminist spaces are not safe spaces for all people who identify as women. This is not news, but because it “is not news” does not mean that we should not pay attention to the way in which our progressive spaces are not “safe” for all those people that they are supposed to be helping. Here, I’m going to digress away from feminism, and point towards “progressive” communities of color, many of which tend not to do the kind of work to determine if their space is safe for all people of color, regardless of embodiment.
When we talk about the “Black Community” as a space that is supposed to be safe for all people who identify as black (and here, I might bother to question how this identification takes place: personal or group directed), we are quick to make a space “unsafe,” in the sense that the space no longer reinforces, validates, and enriches the embodiment and lived experience of the individual, through the devaluation of elements of that persons lived experience, embodiment, or mode of conduct. We, and I mean to imply thinkers working in this area, are quick to dismiss particular individuals on the basis of their lived experience and the orientation towards the world that emerges from that experience.
This should not be mistaken for an argument to allow people to continue with behaviors that perpetuate inequality or injustice: rather, I am arguing for the consideration of how our “progress” in the creation of a community results in the generation of a space that is “unsafe” for those people who the community is supposed to protect. In our collective drive to protect ourselves from the actions of white-supremacy, are we inadvertently generating a space that leaves people that our white-supremacist society will identify as targets of racism without the protection of the community we seek to build? I would respond with an emphatic “yes,” especially as the diversity of Black embodiment increases as a result of the increasing interconnectedness of the world.
I see this as a two-fold dilemma: not only must we (as Black scholars and activists and people generally interested in equality) work to generate a space that we take to be safe for all those that “we” can identify as black, but I view it as a necessity that this space be safe for those people that white-supremacy identifies as black and therefore a legitimate of anti-black racism in a multiplicity of forms. If we restrict the protections offered by our community to only those who “we” (however you define it) determine are black, I have a sneaking fear that there are whole groups of people that white-supremacy define as “black” who are not the beneficiaries of the protections offered by the community.
Ultimately, what this leads to (for me) is the question of the “end in view” towards which the black community is directed, which ultimately determines the organization of the community. If we’re going to say that the end in view of the black community is the creation of a space safe for those who “we” define as black, then those who do not fit the definition and those who are defined as black by white-supremacy are left unprotected. If, on the other hand, the “end in view” of the black community is the defense of all individuals identified as black, which would acknowledge the diversity of blackness (even if it has harmful elements), without privileging one form in exclusion.