It makes no sense, in this day and age, to insist on one hegemonic discourse; one shared reality. While I don’t deny that we as humans do have shared experiences, the bottom line is, in a global community of 7.6 billion strong and counting, diversity and differences are the order of the day. As a result, there has always been a need for at minimum tolerance, if not mutual love and respect. Nowadays, however, it is so much more important for us to take the upholding of values like tolerance and respect more seriously than ever before, thanks to the rapidly changing nature of our world, and the ever-growing extremes of hate.
Rapid globalization, unparalleled rates of human migration, exposure like we have never seen before, and ubiquitous accessibility of information are all important elements of our world today (like them or not). Unfortunately, they can also be used to “otherize” that which we do not recognize as familiar; that which does not fit into worldview. Misinformation can be used to dehumanize, and eventually leading to ostracization and in extreme cases, even genocide. That’s where safe spaces come into play.
Platforms for the uplifting of minority voices, those often silenced, provides a space to fight uninformed opinions. It’s a space to fight back against misrepresentation, to tell our stories in our own words. It’s a space where we get to speak our own truths, without having to filter them through other sources who may misunderstand or misinterpret, no matter how well-intentioned.
Perhaps more obviously, but just as important, spaces available to express our authentic selves allow us to form bonds we didn’t think possible. An experience I might view as uniquely mine may resonate with many around me. What a beautiful thing to discover a shared experience amongst the vast diversity of our world. These moments of camaraderie bring us a sense of belonging and form bonds of togetherness. When a diverse group of people can form a united front through platforms that encourage open debate, the confrontation of biases, and expressions of an authentic sense of being all at once, I believe we take a giant united leap towards encouraging a more loving, intersectional, and respectful society. And even more than that, we must take strides towards ensuring each person is comfortable in their skin, beautiful in the ways they exist without feeling the need to change things they have no control over.