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This Writer Is Challenging Black Folks To 'Hold Your Space' By Refusing To Move Out Of The Way For White People

Stay put!

A black writer has issued a challenge that might produce a bucket of white tears.

In her piece, "Do Not Move Off The Sidewalk Challenge: Holding Your Space in A White World," writer Hannah Drake urged black people and other folks of color to refuse to move out of the way for oncoming white people. 

"My challenge for black people and people of color, particularly black women and women of color, is to hold your space. I challenge you for the next 24-48 hours to be aware of your body in spaces and do not move for a white person or make any apologies for physically occupying any space. Be mindful of how you navigate sidewalks, who moves to accommodate you and who doesn’t. If someone infringes on your space, do you speak up or remain silent? Make a mental note of any time you feel you were 'expected' to move and the reaction of the other person when you didn’t. Take note of how people accommodate others in spaces. Was it frightening or empowering to hold your space? Do you think people felt you were intimidating? How did you feel at the end of the day?"

Drake also urged white people to be more cognizant of how they occupy space:

"For white people, I challenge you for the next 24-48 hours to be aware of how you treat black people and people of color in spaces. Do you have an expectation that black people and people of color should move out of your way? How many times do you insert yourself and your comments into virtual spaces because you feel it is your right without reading and listening to people of color that have stated their truth on a particular issue? Do you speak around the black person as if they are not in the room? Do you interrupt people of color when they are speaking? Are you cutting a black person or a person of color in line because you feel that is your right? Also be aware of how it feels to be cognizant of how your body navigates spaces and imagine how that would feel to do that at the very least for 8 hours out of each day."

Drake came up with this challenge based on situations she experienced while maneuvering through an airport. 

While riding a moving walkway, she noticed another black woman was rushing to catch a flight and when she encountered Drake, she easily brushed past her. But when the woman encountered a white man standing in the middle of the walkway, there was a drastic change in her behavior. 

"He never turned around, never moved and never once thought that others behind him might need to pass. While I would like to say the black woman leaped over him, luggage in tow in a single bound, she stopped dead in her tracks. She never said a word," Drake wrote. "She never politely tapped the man on the shoulder to say, 'Excuse me, may I get by you?' She just accepted that he was not going to move and for some reason even though she was in an apparent rush, she made a choice not to ask for him to cede the space for her to pass. She waited for the rolling walkway to come to an end, waited for him to saunter off the walkway then immediately took off in a sprint heading towards her gate."

That scene influenced how Drake behaved for the rest of her time in the airport. When she stopped for a meal, a white man stopped directly in front of her to salt his food. After her experience on the walkway, Drake stayed put. 

"After he enjoyed a few bites of his food and noticed that I was not going to move, he packed up his belongings and moved to the end of the counter. Victory! It was just that easy. I made a conscious decision as a black woman to hold my space. I was not going to cede my space to a white person because that is what was expected of me," she wrote. 

Drake says she felt "empowered" by that decision and now she wants to see how it'll work for other people.

"I am here. I have every right to be here. I have the right to be in spaces. I will no longer apologize for taking up space nor will I cede my space to a White person simply because that is some unwritten but expected rule. Over the next two days, walk in your authority. Walk as if you want the world to know, 'I am here!' Because you are. And you deserve to be," she concluded. 

Blavity fam, are you up for the challenge?

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Ashleigh is a writer, podcaster and sh*t talker based in Atlanta, GA. She likes food, Beyonce, social justice and the whole bott--er, a glass of wine. Don't start none, won't be none.