The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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The Power of Black-Only Spaces

A student on why we should know Black Solidarity Day’s intention

At Haraya’s Black Solidarity Day (BSD) event on Nov. 6, many participants were angry with the Pan-African student organization for including two people on panels addressing black issues.

In response, Haraya stated, “Having only black people, with the same views and the same views would have been ineffective.”

While I agree with Haraya on the importance of open discussion with white/non-black people, BSD, in my opinion, was neither the time nor place.

BSD, by definition, is a day to celebrate black culture and speak on everyday struggles that we experience, simply due to our blackness in the United States.

As a black woman, I feed off of other black people for my strength.

There is something powerful when we all come together for discussion, to eat and to celebrate with each other.

I crave this kind of attention because it is easy to feel undervalued in a too-often white-dominated world.

It is so easy for white and non-black people (which includes Hispanics, Asians and all other non-black ethnic people) to use our culture but dispose our bodies and experiences for privilege.

According to The Wells’ College website, BSD was founded in 1969 by Dr. Carlos E Russell and derives from the play, “Day of Absence,” by Douglas Turner Ward.

The play is based on the extreme social, political and economic consequences that would ensue if all black people were to disappear for a day.

BSD is a day designed for black men and women to take a “Day of Absence” to show everyone the impact that we have made in today’s society and to discuss our own struggles as being black.

Therefore, what can a white person tell me about being black in America?

We invite too many people to the “cookout” just because they show evidence of non-racist behavior.

This is problematic.

It is even problematic to me for white people to feel as if they should have an opinion on the matter in the first place.

If non-black and white people want to be allies with the black community, they should learn and listen to their black counterparts outside of black-only spaces.

If non-black and white people are truly allies, they would understand why it’s okay for black-only spaces to exist.

However, it is also important to note that it is not our job as black people to educate non-black or white people.

It is not my job to teach people how to not be racist or prejudiced.

Open dialogue, when appropriate, can be a beautiful thing — but it is not my burden to ensure others understand me.

My experiences and encounters with racism still exist regardless of whether white allies understand my struggle or not.

White people and non-black people hearing my struggle and understanding it should not be the only premises for validation.

In my opinion, they already have the privilege of feeling as if they can take everything we have, use any cultural reference or act like they belong anywhere.

Therefore, we should not let them take away the power of a black space simply because they feel as if they belong or have a say.

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