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Can we really blame black students who want segregated college housing?

Rachel Charlene Lewis is a freelance writer with bylines in HuffPost Women, HuffPost Queer Voices, BlogHer, Revelist, Ravishly, Brit + Co, and elsewhere. She is a regular contributor to and HelloGiggles.

College's segregated housing for black students makes a whole lot of sense

Yet another thing in the news regarding safe spaces has people totally pissed off… for all the wrong reasons. When Cal State Los Angeles offered separate housing for black students as a means of allowing these students the ability to sidestep microaggressions, at least at home, some people got really upset, calling it segregation and saying it harkens back to our (not very distant) days of keeping people of different races apart.

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However, call it what you want, but "segregated" college housing doesn’t mean a return to segregation. Here’s what these people are missing. One, this isn't a requirement for students of color. Mixed housing still exists, and people who want to live with and share living spaces with people of different races still have that option. This isn’t forcing anyone to do anything, and at the end of the day, offended white people, do you really want to live with someone who doesn’t want to live with you?

Actually, instead of getting angry at students who want "segregated" housing, maybe we should focus our anger and attention on the context that has them feeling so exhausted and afraid that they feel they can't be in racially diverse groups. Instead of acquiescing to your knee-jerk reaction and getting offended (you know, the thing you accuse us pro-safe space people of doing?), pause. Think about it. Ask yourself: What has these kids so drained that the thought of living with white kids it's just not doable?

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And honestly, you’ll end up with a lot of answers. Between police brutality and the continued murders of black people that are brushed under the rug, it’s hard to be a black person right now who doesn’t feel like you’re constantly in danger. It makes me think of women who want female-only housing and LGBT students who want LGBT-only housing. Is it a permanent solution? Maybe not. But is it the worst solution to have for now, while we work to become a culture that isn’t quite so aggressively and violently anti-black? I can’t say that it is.

You might say that these students should suck it up and deal with the racism. After all, isn’t college all about being exposed to diversity and learning from and about people of different backgrounds? Isn’t a diversity of colors in a dialogue always a good thing? But what you’d be missing is that “diversity” on college campuses often comes at a cost, with that cost being the well being of marginalized groups. What is a theoretical discussion about, say, racism or sexism or homophobia to one college student is a reminder of dehumanization to a kid of color, a woman or an LGBT student. It means sitting in silence while your fellow classmates debate your humanity.

Can we really blame these kids for wanting a break?

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