Celebrating “Black Love” this Valentine’s Day
The “Black Love” event will feature arts and crafts for all ages, self care activities, and tours of the Black Youth Arts Healing Center. The center is run by the Irreducible Grace Foundation.
“The Black Love event is our way of pretty much putting our building in front of everyone, kind of trying to promote the building and let everybody know, here we are, and you're welcome into this space,” said Ruth Meza, Director of Youth Leadership and Development. “Specifically for our Black community members and neighbors, so that they know that this building is here just for them. This space has been designated for their stories to be told, and their history and culture to be fostered above all else. And then, of course, for all BIPOC community members to know that they are welcome and safe and supported in this space in general.”
Meza says the Irreducible Grace Foundation shared space for years with a church in Frogtown, but found that the youth they were serving craved a space of their own. Then the Saint Paul City Middle School was vacated and became available.
“Coming into this building, it was so interesting,” said Meza,” because when all of the things started lining up for us to be able to obtain it, we weren't necessarily set up to have it. And all of these things just perfectly landed in place for us to come into this building. And even now, we're just like, ‘Oh, my God, we ain't got the money.” But at the same time you can just tell that God wanted this to happen for the young people, for all of us in the organization, and that we are on the right path to be where we're supposed to be and do what we're supposed to be doing for this community, for Frogtown. And for the young people that ask for it.”
Team member Aniya Bailey says being in the new space feels safe and affirming.
“It feels like home, it feels like something I've never had before, and I'm very grateful for the opportunity,” she said. “Like Ruth was saying about the alignment with the building and how that happened - I feel like the same happened for me getting here. It was just in divine timing. It feels really good to be a part of it all.”
Meza is Latina. She says she’s often asked how she feels about working in a space that centers Black people.
“And I'm like, you don't understand how much it is about me and how much it is about all of us, all the time,” said Meza. “So I feel like I'm living my purpose. I feel like I'm welcome here. I feel like it's about me, like Black history is all of our history. And as much as all of us have benefited from the revolutions started by Black folks, we benefit from learning all of this history, and getting to be part of an organization that wants to teach us this true history of the United States, and be part of a place where these young people can come in and feel truly fostered and welcomed and like, all of their identity is truly being loved on and welcomed.”
The Black Love event takes place on Sunday, February 12th, from 3:30pm-6:30pm - it’s free and open to all ages.