Why Spaces for POC Matter

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Why Spaces for POC Matter

Photo Via: AHUS Women of Color Panel, July 2018

It’s 2018, and you turn on the news and see another mass shooting, or police brutality against a person of color (POC), or media personalities justifying Blackface as a Halloween costume. You head to work, and you have a picture of your family on your desk, and you hide your frustration while having to explain how Black people come in different skin tones. Again, it’s 2018, and we seem to have to bite our tongues most of the time when we are living our daily lives. Moreover, it’s mentally exhausting and makes you lose sight of how passionate you are about your culture and your people. Raising the question of where can you go to feel protected and in a safe place to decompress. Are you going to tune the world out and watch another reality show that depicts negative stereotypes of Black and brown people? Are you going to continue to ignore it until your body becomes tolerable to the toxicity of everyday life? Have you ever thought of being a part of an environment that was made for you, where you can express the joy in loving yourself as a POC?

This year, we have witnessed a record growth of people of color creating events that speak to their particular interests. Events circling around comics, music, podcasts, and more in order to provide a safe space to express themselves in the way they need to. That’s right, events where they don’t have to wear a mask or code switch in order to “fit in” to the given environment. Community spaces or events for POC truly matter now more than ever. You never know how much your issues with everyday life matches with someone else’s until you meet them. The probability is high that there is also someone else out there wanting to figure out how to navigate this social climate. Events for POC are integral because they uplift and foster healthy conversations that in turn enhance the ever evolving culture. Over the past year, we have seen more digital media companies such as BuzzFeed, Essence, and Remezcla highlight the everyday struggles and issues on being a person of color.

These publications challenge the toxicity and the daily “norm” of how Black and Latinx should act in situations not designed for them. For example, Negra Soy”: Why I’ve Moved Away From The Term Afro-Latina truly caught my attention. The author, Janel Martinez, expressed that the label, Afro-Latina, was insufficient because a Black women in Latin America encompassed more. This prompted the question, “Why do we continue to put a term on our identity?” Articles such as these create conversations within our community that mass media has zero interest in covering. But media companies for POC aren’t the only ones taking a leap to making these conversations happen.

 Photo Via: AHUS Women of Color Panel, July 2018

Photo Via: AHUS Women of Color Panel, July 2018

Everyday people are changing the narrative and creating events for people like them. Nubian Shorties is a NYC collective that hosts events, meet ups, and other initiatives to push the message that Black women matter. The creator, Tiffany Dames, started this collective two years ago in New York City. She created these events because there was a lack of representation from Black women in the City. Within two years, she has successfully created seven events and YouTube videos. They have focused on conversations, friendships, and moments for Black women to feel welcomed. This is why going out and finding a space for POC matters.

I have been fortunate enough to attend several events from Nubian Shorties and none are like the rest. The most recent event was the “Black A%$ Halloween Party” and it was everything I needed. It’s always refreshing meeting other like-minded women from different cultural backgrounds such as Caribbean, African, or Black American. Spaces like these are hidden gems throughout your city or your hometown. I was able to share the joy of loving what it means to be Black and beautiful with other women of color. These are the spaces needed in communities that feel voiceless in America.

We look to our leaders and media stars for validation of something we already know. We know we matter. Therefore, as essential as it is to create these coveted spaces, it is equally imperative to support those creating them. In this past year, we have seen what we can do when it comes to media, protests, profits, and more. Showing up and showing out for those who are looking to uplift us is a must for 2019.

So, if you never understood why Black and brown people feel the need to develop their own space, you now know why. We will never deplete in numbers, and it is time we recognize that our worth is valuable in this world. So thank you to those who have created spaces to make sure we are heard, and we exist!