8 Black Women Reflect on How They Create, Protect, and Celebrate a Safe Space at Home

published Feb 18, 2021
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Safe space. It’s become a buzzword, but its essence has extreme importance, and the word “home” is central to the concept of a safe space. For me, succulents, a cozy corner with a couch, and lots of books make me feel safe — through my home, I feel warm and understood, and it is that safety that serves as the first step to my self-actualization. Once I feel secure, I can simultaneously cultivate and discover my true self to share with the world. 

Finding and protecting a safe space is important to everyone, and Black women in particular face unique intersectional challenges that require they embrace daily practices that make them feel safe — not just for the sake of comfort, but for survival.

I talked with Black women across the diaspora about their efforts to make their homes safe spaces in the midst of an overdue national reckoning with anti-Black racism in America during a time when many people have been spending more time at home than ever before. Ahead, read through their journeys of finding and prioritizing their space and self-care through stay-at-home orders, job loss, collective and individual grief, and more.

“To center and comfort myself, I eat chocolate every morning and watch a sitcom every night with my lights dimmed down before I sleep. I’ve also put mirrors in my room so that I could get in the habit of working out and monitoring my improvement. I’ve added plants to my room. I got rid of all old clutter and items that serve no longer serve a purpose. For me, a safe space constitutes feeling comfortable and like you can let your guard down.” — Ibukun, 22

“My home [has been] a safe space and a place to reflect. To center and comfort myself, I do lots of candle lighting and daily devotionals. I also have gotten much more into home-cooking everything from scratch and I fully decorated my room, which used to be a blank canvas and more of a guest room. Now, it has a shelf with my favorite trinkets, a work-from-home area with a desk and chair, and new luxurious bedding. A safe space is where I can be myself, and as lonely or in company as I want to be.” — Joslyn, 34

“Home felt different, and I had to reconcile and wrestle with that sensation. Since I’m older, I had to reestablish my relationship with my parents and learn how to navigate family dynamics. [I’m] not a passive last child, but an adult with agency and needs and boundaries. 

My room has the same furniture that I used as a child, and I’ve outgrown it. I don’t want to ditch it because of the sentimental value, but logistically, it’s not serving me anymore. I decided to move my nightstand to the wall near my closet, move my desk chair out of my room, and move my ring light to create a new working area. This still is not suitable: My legs are still cramped up, and I have to turn to the side or prop my legs up. But at least I now face my window and have a change of perspective.” – Jasmine, 22

Keeping pictures of loved ones around me as a form of decoration in my home has comforted me. Also, I pray and read my Bible in my home regularly to center myself. A safe space should be free of fear, quarrels, fights, and abuse. “ — Pearl, 73

“Home has been a slow-moving vehicle that brought me back to myself. I revamped most of my bedroom. I bought new blankets, new pillows, and a piece of art for my wall. I also bought a plant back in April (and I’m happy to report that she is flourishing). I’ve also learned to leave the blinds up at night. Then, in the morning, when everything in my room is lit up by the sun, I choose to have a good day. If I can walk around naked, leave dishes in the kitchen, and speak to God aloud, that’s a safe space.” — Shamari, 24

“Since I am back at home [with my parents] and currently unemployed, I have been able to live rent-free and without bills as I search for a job. Being at home has allowed me some peace as I find the perfect job for me. A safe space is somewhere that I can be myself without judgement, and my home provides that.” – Abbigail, 23

“Over the past two years I’ve been curating my home so that it evokes a particular emotion. This past year, in particular, that has proven to be a saving grace. My color palette is Turkish blue and grapefruit, which I’ve married with rich textures and walnut wood. I’ve been very intentional about making sure that the space feels like all of the good things in my life — my mom, great food, travel.

My apartment feels warm. It also evokes a sense of adventure, which has been a mental balm in a year that, at times, has made my word feel small and lonely. I bought a Tibetan singing bowl last year, so now I begin my days by ringing the bowl, opening my blinds to let the light in, and having a cup of tea while snuggling with my puppy. Essentially, I wanted my apartment to give me a sense of access to all of the people and things quarantine was keeping me from.

A safe space for me has personality; it feels and looks lived in, but polished. Ideally, it has seven things: art (preferably art that I can see myself in), warmth, texture, life and adventure, books, music, and tea.” – Virginia, 30

“My home has given me the space and freedom to voice my anger, frustration and grief about the world around me. Home also gave me peace of mind, and the certainty that my family will always look out for each other and be there, no matter what the world is going through. Family dinners allow us to unfold our days as a group. We talk about our days and our worries, and pray for each other. That has been an essential part of my year. ” — Monica, 23