AGRUPA review Creating Safe Spaces for Women of Colour workshop #DMAW16

 

Black Blossoms founder Bee Tajudeen gave an insightful workshop on the 20th April at University of the Arts London (UAL), midway through Diversity Matters Awareness Week, on the importance of creating safe spaces for *women of colour.

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Two AGRUPA members who identify as WOC (women of colour) attended the workshop and shared their experience…

“Prior to attending the ‘Creating a Safe Space for Women of Colour’ event, I was interested to see who would attend and if there were any specifications for what classes as a ‘woman of colour’.

Although I consider myself to be a woman of mixed ethnicity, I could visually pass as ‘white British’, therefore was unsure if I was able or should of attended the event as I haven’t experienced the same prejudices as a black woman has.

However, all participants were able to speak freely and raise questions surrounding the topic without being made to feel vulnerable, or afraid to vocalise their opinions, which alone was a success. Some really interesting points were made and I left with a whole other understanding of what a safe space means for others and how that can open and develop the conversation for these issues regarding race, gender and sexuality.”

-Sahar Amer, Camberwell College of Art students and AGRUPA co-founder

All photographs by Tiffany Webster (AGRUPA)

“Initially, prior to the event I was slightly apprehensive, as I had never attended an event exclusively aimed at women of colour. I had only been to safe spaces for women previously. I wasn’t sure of the meaning of a ‘safe’ space or terms such as ‘politically black’ either so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the workshop.

On the day of the workshop I met a group of wonderful likeminded women of colour of a range of ages; all coming from different backgrounds, we openly spoke about what a safe space was and what it means to us all individually. I myself found that I focused more on the physicality of the space rather than intangible factors such as openness, security, comfort, sense of belonging and so on. But these terms also made me consider all these meanings and their importance to feel like you can speak openly and freely.

The debate and discussions were highly informative and engaging through Bee’s powerpoint presentation; we all had the opportunity and time to think and express ourselves if we didn’t agree with a certain point. I learnt a range of  terms I wasn’t familiar with such as ‘Horizontal Hostility’.

Apart from being informative it was also a great chance to bond and get to know the other women of colour which was surprising that in such a short space of time we all came together gradually and learnt more about our backgrounds and why we came to the event and how we found out about the event.

Overall, it was a deeply thought provoking experience that in some shape or form we managed to get some solutions and reasons to why we as women of colour need to create more safe spaces; to have these conversations and deal with some of the problems within the black community first, to then be able to express our needs and join together in the environments we feel unrepresented, unequal or unheard.

Bee did a great job and was very inspiring. She highlighted issues I hadn’t thought about before or considered. I look forward to more events by Black Blossoms and have followed her group on Social Media.”

– Tiffany Webster, Camberwell College of Arts students and AGRUPA co-founder

AGRUPA is a student collaboration group whose focus is to to promote and provide platforms for diversity, which will champion international and BAME students, and their creative practices. CLICK HERE to find out more.

The fire alarm which interupted our “safe space” didn’t put of off connecting with each other as we took our session into the sunshine whilst we waited for the building to be given the all clear… There just happened to be a hoola-hoop nearby!

Special thanks to Bee, Tiffany, Sahar and all the amazing women of colour who shared a safe and open space with us during Diversity Matters Awareness Week!

*Women of Colour (WOC): women belonging to a racial group not categorised as white.

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