In a 2010 essay for Urbanite Baltimore Magazine, author, scholar, activist and educator Professor Lester K. Spence asks readers to consider what's really at work when black people actively choose to live, work and socialize exclusively in all black spaces. Spence candidly and painfully discusses how persistent racial micro-aggressions and flat out racial hostility inform his choice to avoid all white spaces.
Predominantly white spaces can be exhausting to navigate. I have to consciously be aware of what I am saying, of who is around me, of what I am wearing, of what I am doing, of what others are saying and doing. In critical ways, I cannot let my guard down for a moment. Because—and even as I write this I recognize how paranoid this may sound to people unfamiliar with the experiences I refer to—at any point I may be forced to defend myself, defend my presence.
In stark contrast, when I am at home, or at my wife's church, or with my fraternity brothers, or at the club listening to house music, I am at home. I am not a statistic. Not a threat. Not an outsider. Not an anomaly. I am safe to "be." I can be the "representative for the race." I can be the one black person in the room. But I don't have to be. I can take the story I just told you and explain in detail why I think I was being racially profiled, why I think other possible explanations don't stand up to empirical scrutiny, why I think I was saved by the two black officers who knew what was going on without me having to tell them. But when talking to other black men and women or even to young children (to my children), I don't have to.You can read the entire piece here.