Black People in Vienna is a social group that I created so that black people living in Vienna can connect and share ideas. We have networking events and have a virtual space where we can celebrate each other and share news. If you are black and living in Vienna, Austria, please join.
When I formed this group I received some push-back from a few black people who were unused to and against the concept of a space for only black people. Black-only spaces exist organically and by design all over the world. No space is totally safe or free from potential harm that members may cause each other but many black people long for spaces that do not centralize white people or seek to appease good white people especially in a predominately white environment like Vienna. Many of us survive microaggressions and outright racism and discrimination every single day. Black People in Vienna offers a space where we do not have to be confronted with racist oppression, teach white people or explain our experiences.
Microaggression is a term coined by psychiatrist and Harvard University professor Chester M. Pierce in 1970 to describe insults and dismissals he regularly witnessed non-black Americans inflict on African Americans.
I have taken black-only spaces for granted for much of my life. I grew up in a black family, in a black neighborhood, went to a black church and later a historically black university (HBCU). I understand that many Afro-Europeans may not have had any of those spaces. The theory of a color-blind, post-racial society is also popular in much of Europe. This theory holds fast to the belief that if we forget or neglect our racial identities, we can defeat racism. This is akin to thinking that ignoring fire will keep us from getting burned. I do not have the luxury of forgetting that I am black.
“If you forget that you are black, don’t worry, white people will remind you.” – Anonymous Black Proverb
Black people often do a lot of invisible and unacknowledged labor in order to negotiate white spaces. Most of us, especially in Austria, have to function within white spaces to survive. This means not only dealing with the abuse of the ignorant but the curiosity of the well-meaning. This means we are always hyper-visible and vulnerable to unwanted interactions.
I hope that Black People in Vienna can be a space where we can come together in love and build community.
Black People in Vienna serves as a social network and a place where we gather to celebrate and support each other. It started as the Vienna Black Movie Club and grew from there. We have monthly events that include movie nights, happy hours, brunches, book clubs and other interest-based sub-groups. This gives us opportunities to get to know each other, develop friendships and work with each other. To learn more visit us here.