When I think of activities or groups to be part of or participate in, the first thing I wonder about is the space. Not just the physical space, but also the kind of people and culture the group has. Is it a safe space? Where people can be themselves, and be respected for who they are, and their thoughts and ideas? In my personal life and work, I always think of how to make and be part of safe spaces. I think creating a safe space is one of the most important things to do in order for people to feel comfortable sharing their stories and to build a community.
Example of a safe space - ‘Precious Knowledge’
Does your home feel like a safe space? How about school? Or the groups and activities you are part of outside of school? What makes these places safe spaces to be part of? A great example of safe spaces that had a culture that embraced all kinds of peoples and their experiences and stories were the ethnic studies classrooms in Tucson High School in Arizona. After seeing the documentary, “Precious Knowledge” about the ethnic studies program in Tucson, made me think long and hard about the importance of safe spaces. In these classrooms, students were able to connect with their histories, language, and culture, and see themselves in the subjects they were learning. Students were able to have their own opinions and share them while thinking critically about the material they were learning and connecting it to their own lives. Even when these spaces were under attack, and no longer exist, students who graduated from these classes continue to share their knowledge in other spaces.
Reasons for safe spaces:
Why is it important to have safe spaces? If there was no place--at home, or in school, or even in extracurricular activities where you felt like you belonged? or if in these spaces you felt out of place, what would it be like for you? Would you be able to share your experiences--good or bad? Would you be able to trust people in those spaces to interact with? When I was a teen, I didn’t have many safe spaces--the only safe space I was part of was at the Y where I was able to share my experiences and connect with others. Through respect, trust and acceptance of all different kinds of people and cultures, we were able to create a space that allowed us to connect with one another. We were able to share our stories and build a strong community that lasted throughout the school year, and that I cherish to this day.
Conclusion - Story Archive
The hope of the story archive is to create safe spaces where young Latina teens that are part of the MyLatinitas.com community can share and express their stories in ways that encourages creativity and sharing their truth. I think the first step is intentionally creating the safe spaces to do so. Through creating the safe space together, we can share our personal stories and experiences that will help build a wonderful and strong community that we envision together.
‘Precious Knowledge’ Documentary