What is Safe Black Space?
Safe Black Space is the umbrella under which services are offered to address individual and community reactions of people of African ancestry to cultural and racial trauma.
Safe Black Space was initiated after the murder of Stephon Clark by Sacramento Police in March 2018 to provide a space specifically for Black people to respond to the killing. Given people of African ancestry have repeatedly been victims of police violence and after witnessing the response of the local community, a group of mental health providers, faith leaders, educators, and community members in Sacramento came together.
This group provides “Safe Black Space: A Community Healing Circle By and For People of African Ancestry to Promote Community and Personal Healing.” SBS-CHCs are confidential and supportive healing circles for people who identify as African American and are experiencing race-based trauma. While not therapy, they provide mental health, spiritual and community support offered in an African-centered and holistic way.
Historic, systemic and institutional conditions of racism and oppression that Black people face on a regular basis may result in cultural and racial trauma and the development of symptoms of “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”, which can be re-conceptualized as “Post Traumatic Slavery Disorder.” We understand that cultural and racial trauma is persistent and pervasive (not “post) and symptoms may include: emotional numbing, avoidance, increased arousal, disrupted sleep, etc. Witnessing or experiencing cultural and racial trauma can trigger symptoms like these and others.
Just as individuals who are African ancestry are traumatized so are communities and one of the first things needed is healing. Healing circles like Safe Black Space Community Healing Circles can help both the individual and the community begin to heal from the wounds. They help build resilience, which is the capacity of individuals and communities to deal with a violent incident without it being a hurtful traumatic event.
Given trauma-informed care is becoming a standard practice, providing strategies that address trauma within the Black community that are culturally relevant and specific are needed (e.g., community-defined evidence practices; indigenous community-based approaches). Safe Black Space is such an approach.