A group of 11 women, 10 Black, were kicked off the Napa Valley Wine Train for “laughing and talking too loud.” late last fall. The group has since filed for a discrimination lawsuit settling for an undisclosed amount. For those of you unfamiliar with Napa Valley, it is an area in Northern California. We might add that it hasn’t been until fairly recently has been a destination to “cultured” whites.
“Laughing and talking too loud?” By who’s standard? The politics of space boils down to the dominant social group of a space setting the cultural norms of a space. This includes how one should talk, walk, move, and exist. The social politics of a space can be determined based on, class, race, gender or sexual orientation. Ever thought to yourself, “I don’t belong here” or “these are not my type of people?” The politics of a space can preserve exclusivity, sometimes and intentionally, serving as barriers from certain groups.
In Measuring Blackness, I wrote that Whiteness is the antithesis of Blackness. For many black folks who are not fluid between spaces, it is difficult for them to enter or feel comfortable.
Classic example: the Napa Valley Wine Train.
Last summer, Durham, North Carolina organizers partnered with the Durham Central Park Board of Directors to host the event Black August in the Park. The mission?
“To create an inter-generational opportunity for Black people in Durham to unapologetically celebrate blackness; interrupt white spaces by injecting a black presence in downtown Durham; and facilitate connections with social justice organizations within the city of Durham and surrounding areas. The event is not about pushing an agenda, it’s about black people getting together to have fun and create a counter-narrative to the negative images of blackness in the media and in Durham.”
Hence, the park event which took place last August was biased towards Blackness. The city is looking at opportunities to create a continuity of pockets of Black spaces in spaces where white hierarchies exist. Not to be confused, these spaces are open to all people, however, they will exist as safe spaces for Black folks to unapologetically be themselves.
Outside of the Black and White binary, other races struggle with fitting into certain spaces as well. Arguably, with the exception of Native Americans. Perhaps, America should move towards a fully Black-biased space, a space that would be inclusive of all folks?