In my classroom, my kids have a Safe Place.
The Safe Place is a concept that stems from the Conscious Discipline program that helps children self regulate. There's usually a soft cushion, a feeling buddy chart to show kids a visual to describe what they are feeling, and tools to help them calm down. The tools consist of a ball to squeeze, or a loofa for kids who calm down when their senses are stimulated. Whenever a child is upset about something we go through the different steps to get them calm, and then address why they are upset. Once we have addressed the problem, we come up with a solution, which can range from reading a book, drawing a picture, or looking at family photos in our class. These strategies of guidance have been proven effective and helps them feel safe when expressing how they feel. Because after all, we all feel things right?
Yes, it is true we all feel things.
Yes, it is true that we all have a right to feel what we feel.
Unfortunately, we all aren't given the Safe Place to feel the way we feel, nor are we often given the opportunity to work through those feelings and come to solutions.
After following the Daniel Holtzclaw case via Twitter and News One Now with Roland Martin, I could not help but wonder about the Safe Places that were not given to those 13 black women (and others who had been raped or sexually assaulted by the cop who did not come forward).
Those women who did not feel safe coming forward because they didn't know who to report the police to. Those women who had been shamed because of their pasts not being squeaky clean. Those few women who received a not guilty verdict because an all-white, predominately male jury did not think they were good enough to receive justice. Where were their safe places? Have they actually ever experienced a safe place?
What many don't like to address when it comes to black girls and black women is the lack of a Safe Place starts very young for so many. Our little girls are violated by those who they believe love them, but touch them inappropriately giving these innocent girls misconstrued outlooks on what love really is. Where are their Safe Places?
These same little girls run out seeking love in all the wrong places, giving their bodies as an offering up for somebody to just love them. Instead of having mentors and leaders to guide them on a healthier path, they are shamed into being called fast, slut, and whore. There is no place for them to express their pain, their loss, their longing to be loved, and to feel safe. Where are their Safe Places?
Little girls grow into young women who have spent their entire lives being told to be quiet.
Don't be the "Angry Black Woman."
You are a "Strong Black Woman," you can get through it.
These women have had to be strong all of their lives. These women have single handedly raised families, worked three jobs to put themselves through schools, and worked twice as hard to only get half of what Affirmative Action gives little Abigail Fisher on a silver platter. When they are tired, and frustrated, and have to deal with all that there is to go along with being a Black American woman, where are their Safe Places?
So when a man, who is sworn to protect you, forces himself upon you, and gets away with it because no one will believe you, it's hard to believe that there is a Safe Place for you. It's hard because he knows there is no real Safe Place for black girls and women in American society. And when looking back over the years at all the times you have never had a safe place because you have been violated, silenced, criticized for being too loud, forced to ignore you pain because you are supposed to be strong, it's hard to think of a time you will ever be safe.