Different cultures have their own boundaries when it comes to respecting the physical space a person occupies, whether it refers to how close someone gets or in a space like someone’s home. And then there is space in terms of representation, who occupies a space and how. Black culture in America has a hard time claiming space and keeping it as their own, and when space is claimed oftentimes we see that those outside of the culture don’t respect it.
Capitalist attitudes are drivers of U.S. history and placed the Black community in a space of negative stereotypes with little room for say-so, community growth, or ability to create their own spaces. Many of our ancestors were stripped of their identities and brought to this country with nothing, so the Black community has always been a group that symbolizes strength and resourcefulness with the ability to really build things from the ground up both for itself and for our country. In that same vein, those accomplishments are overlooked and the opportunities and spaces Black people create for themselves tend to be disregarded, highly criticized, or taken advantage of by other groups.
Hip-hop is the most obvious example. Remember when “gangsta rap” was highly criticized and on multiple occasions blamed for the death and “wrong-doing” in the Black community and like all of America? How are we supposed to react when White entertainers have since adopted aspects of the genre to boost their own careers? Cornrows, afros, and colored weaves has had little Black girls kicked out of school and their places of employment, but then becomes accepted as “new trends” when those of lighter complexions adopt the styles. This argument teeters closely to cultural appropriation, and it’s really all the same, what can we have for ourselves?
And then there is the N-Word; in my opinion, an extremely coveted piece of Black culture that also wouldn’t come with its fair share of controversy if it wasn’t for non-Blacks feelings of entitlement towards it. But that’s another post.
Black Culture hasn’t been safe physically or in the theoretical sense in a long time, but at least conversations about it are getting louder. So what about Black digital space? This concept is fairly new and is already being analyzed by people outside of the community.
The L.A. Times recently hired a Black beat writer to cover “Black Twitter” which sounds legit until you realize he’s not as well-versed in this specific Twittersphere and according to a bio I read he studied Japanese rap music for his Masters. Kinda sounds like an invasion of space to me, when you realize that Black Twitter isn’t one group of people and is actually full of writers. And what is MTV2 trying to do with the new show “#UncommonSense”? Yeah Charlemagne is the host but Black Twitter is on Twitter and not TV for a reason. The pros to these two scenarios are that there is representation but, is it only weird to me that these largely White media outlets are producing these things? We should just have so many questions.
So what are safe spaces, are they even real and can they be possible? A large part of me wants to say yes, and claim that there are physical and theoretical aspects to cultures that only those cultures should be entitled to. But in this sharing environment where media and money play such large roles I really don’t know if those things are possible.
Why do you think it’s so hard for people to keep their hands out of other’s cultural cookie jars and is it possible anymore for cultures to keep things to themselves?