Why safe spaces are essential for marginalised groups

11 December 2020
Area of action: Goods and services
Grounds of discrimination: Racism

Differentiation on the basis of skin colour is never permissible. There is not the slightest doubt about that.

The controversy surrounding an activity organised by the Imazi.Reine collective is unfortunate because it brings the concept of a 'safe space' into disrepute. A safe space is simply one of the resources that are valuable and necessary for victims of racism and discrimination and for minority groups to deal with the dominant relationships that are simply a reality in our society.

It needs to be possible to organise safe spaces insofar as these are spaces that, for a limited time, offer people the opportunity to communicate, exchange experiences (empowerment), strengthen their self-confidence, express themselves freely and reflect collectively. In these circumstances, people who are all too often unheard, despised or excluded will (later) be able to make use of meeting places and debates that are mixed and open to all.

Those who organise safe spaces must focus, as a priority, on the specific target groups (e.g., victims of discrimination or racism, ethnic minorities, LGBT, etc.) but must also avoid communicating in a way that suggests exclusion (e.g., 'prohibited for whites', 'prohibited for heterosexuals). In any case, this can never happen on the basis of someone's skin colour.

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