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Our Best Place

Re-conceptualizing Safe Spaces

ISBN: 978-1-83982-251-3, eISBN: 978-1-83982-250-6

Publication date: 25 October 2021


More than 10 years after its founding, the STEM Women of Color Conclave® has emerged as the largest safe brave space in the United States for women faculty of color in the academic science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Originally intended to be a national assembly, the Conclave® has evolved into a safe brave space that serves as a refuge for STEM women faculty of color who are regularly taxed with the struggle of having to navigate the unwelcoming, and often hostile, environments of the ivory tower in very unique ways. This chapter narrates how the Conclave's founding members journeyed toward creating and sustaining this safe brave space. The reader is awakened to deeper awareness of and sensitivities for the ways in which safe brave spaces must address both the complexities related to struggle – and liberation from that struggle – for both occupiers and observers of safe brave spaces. However, just as the quantum observer can disturb the system just by observing it and, ultimately, change or even nullify the results, we recognize that merely observing the Conclave® would nullify its intended purpose and, in the end, render it unsafe. Therefore, the reader can anticipate an absence of direct observations, reports of outcomes, or specific accounts of progress related to the occupiers of our safe brave space. Rather, the chapter offers an invitation to the reader to explore the authors' lived experiences as occupiers who designed a safe brave space. We invite the reader, particularly those who are also observers of safe brave spaces, to join us in protecting these valuable spaces.



Mack, K., Rankins, C., McDermott, P. and Taylor, O. (2021), "Our Best Place", Winter, K. and Bramberger, A. (Ed.) Re-conceptualizing Safe Spaces, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 173-185.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021 Kelly Mack, Claudia Rankins, Patrice McDermott, and Orlando Taylor. Published under exclusive licence by Emerald Publishing Limited