Culture Hack

The Importance of Protected Black Spaces

Growing up as a young Black woman in a predominantly white environment, I didn’t realize what I was missing until I became a part of an organization called Jack and Jill of America. In the beginning, I thought Jack and Jill was an organization that enabled me to meet and form friendships with other Black children in predominantly white environments, but I later learned the underlying importance and impact it had on Black culture. 

At face value, Jack and Jill is a leadership organization that was founded by African American mothers in 1983 with the idea of bringing together children in a social and cultural environment. Throughout my time in Jack and Jill, I was able to make solid friendships, hold leadership roles on the teen’s executive council, and had a fuller high school experience. One thing I can note is that Jack and Jill is filled with mothers and fathers who are at the top of the Black echelon and Black children and teens who go to the top school and later universities. This was reflected in the activities we held and events we attended.

Becoming a part of the organization has enabled me to understand another lens of culture, knowledge, and understanding of the Black community that I couldn’t have found in the white spaces I mostly participated in before joining the organization. It also revealed to me that protected Black spaces are more important than society realizes.

 Having protected Black spaces for children and families expresses two very important notions. The first is that Black children who are in protected spaces learn that they deserve to be protected and valued. The second is that Black children realize they might want to seek out more protected spaces where they feel welcome, for example, High school/college Black Student Unions and Historically Black Fraternities and Sororities and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. 

Jack and Jill is just one example of a protected space that fosters the development and learning of children, teens, and young adults. Protected spaces for Black and Brown children are important because they instill vital community teachings, are cultural connectors, and enable children to navigate life. 

-Kimberly Heard