a place or environment in which a person or category of people can feel confident that they will not be exposed to discrimination, criticism, harassment, or any other emotional or physical harm.
Every time I walk into a brewery or taproom I am usually the only black person in the brewery. There’s the Chads, Sarahs, Bobs, and Karens sitting together enjoying flight, pints, crowlers, and maybe trivia depending on the night. They are all having a good time because they feel comfortable and safe that they are going to have a good time and get good service. They are in a safe space. They have a place they can be confident and protected by a bubble.
Me on the other other hand, it’s a little bit different. I am usually the only black person drinking beer in the spaces with a rare occasion other black people drinking there as well. It’s like the big fish in a small pond, you’re going to stand out! You know it and the brewery/taproom knows it. You can tell from the over explaining of beer or just the disengaged interactions that can happen from time to time. Sometimes it can be disguised by employees and consumers being overly nice to you. It gets to the point where it becomes weird and creepy. We can sense your energy from the first eye contact. We just want to feel safe.
When you hear people safe space they most likely think of a space that is safe from just physical harm. While that’s true, that isn’t all it entails. A Safe Space is safety from physical, mental, verbal, and emotional harm. It is a place a person can come in and be themselves. Breweries pride themselves on creating a community. What community are they focusing on?
Here are a few things I think can create a genuine safe space:
Music- Music is probably one of the first things I, a black consumer, listen to when I walk into a new space. It gives me an audible sense of what the establishment will be like. Music gives a personality that people and decorations can’t. If you want something smooth and laid back then try Jill Scott for good and smooth r&b, Kaytranada who is a bass heavy Electronic artist, or hip hop/rap music such as Buddy.
Diversity- This is probably something super obvious in theory but some breweries struggle with this. In short, REPRESENTATION MATTERS. I go to breweries for the beer but there times I come back for the diversity. If you have a diverse staff this make black people feel more comfortable in your space. They see themselves in the brewery. Also, when I say staff, I mean front of house staff. No disrespect to back of the house but that is a space we already dominate! We want to see people up front speaking to the product and providing excellent service and knowledge.
Community Immersion- The Craft Beer industry prides itself on creating community but for who? It just seems like the community that is focused on is the bearded and man bunned community along with their girlfriends. Craft beer seems to permeate itself in certain restaurants over others. This can go both ways and I realize that. In this instance, I am talking about the way of the Craft Beer Industry. There are so many communities that are not being marketed. This can be remedied with tap takeovers at Black owned restaurants or create internships that lead to positions either at your brewery or another brewery. There are may other ways to get out of your community which we can talk about executing after you read this post!
I hope these ideas give you a great starting point to create a true safe space within your brewery and still provide the best beverage on this planet! I am available for any opportunities for us to work together on this!
I am available via email: email@example.com and most social media including Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok. Let’s make you space genuinely safe!