Black Women's Healing Spaces

Published on 2 December 2021 at 11:29

I have a love for reality television that provides escapism from my reality.

It is one of the activities that I do for self-care. I escape my everyday life (personal and professional) through reality television. One of the shows that I watch is Love & Hip Hop Miami. There is a couple on the show (Ace Hood & Shela) that gives pretty positive vibes. Even in their moments of dysfunction, they will usually come around to an understanding through adult conversation.

On one of the most recent episodes, there was a dust-up over the retreat that Shela hosts. This particular retreat is advertised and sold (keyword: Sold) as a healing and safe space for women who identify themselves as black. Now, this includes many different ethnicities across the black diaspora. So, when Neri (a Cuban who is married to an Afro-Puerto Rican) asks if that would cross her off the attendance list, she is told in so many words, no offense, but yes, it would. Shelah explained that the organizers attempted to include allies, but it was not optimal for the targeted attendees. So Shelah decided to forgo including allies going forward.

The part that took my lunch was when Neri proceeded to be OK but not be OK with it. I describe it as such because she claimed to understand when Shelah initially explained it to her, but she still managed to bring it up on three subsequent occasions to other people. Then, of course, Nore would cape for his wife because "her husband and kids are black." That's his wife. But I noticed a long-ago trend among the men (and some women) in hip-hop to not protect black women in our needs of space and our voices.

Hear me out. What was Neri going to do at this retreat? She reasoned that she could learn. OK, understandable and not a wrong motivation on her part. But what if the women who pay to attend these "healing spaces" aren't up for being Neri's teacher? Maybe attending the retreat and obtaining their healing can't happen without having to censor themselves. We have to realize that black women have to protect ourselves at almost every turn. Having a space where we don't have to worry about being judged is priceless. What if Neri gets there and disagrees with what she hears from someone? Does she dispute it, or does she take back the negative that she hears and turn it into something else? That is the risk. The ultimate danger is losing the women's trust that the retreat is ultimately marketed to and paying their money. Or does what they want and paid money to receive even matter.

Seriously, think about it. If I married a Cuban man and had some babies, that does not grant me entry into Cuban women's spaces for themselves (and I believe they should have them). It is an insult and an affront to think that you can antagonize someone about their choice to keep the space they provide a safe space and not make room in it for you to "learn" because you choose to sleep with and have children with black men. There are groups for that as well. Also, it is her job to seek the knowledge she claims to want. As for Princess, this girl is pretty messed up, but what would I expect from anyone married to Ray J. It is her job to fix herself. It is the mother's job to fix her issues. Everyone is an adult and responsible for seeking the answers they claim to want on their own.

Honestly, I'm proud that Shelah stood her ground and ended her part of the conversation. Because what did they expect her to do, fold because Neri is Nore's wife?

I said all that to say that we need to respect people's healing, growing, personal, and other spaces that should be considered safe. I don't expect to be included in everything. Hell, my friends who are Delta's (members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.) do Delta stuff, and I don't expect inclusion because I am not a member. It's that simple.

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