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CCE staff and partner reflections on our collaborative work to create schools where learning is engaging and rewarding, and every student is set up for success.

Eight for Equity! Back-to-School Roundup

Eight for Equity!

It’s that time of year—school buses are filling the roads, teachers are kicking off professional development for the year, and classrooms have shiny floors and the lingering smell of lemon cleaner. All around New England, the 2018-2019 school year has begun. So here’s to you—students, educators, administrators, parents/guardians, all of you—and your new beginnings! And to aid you on the start of a new year, here’s your Back-to-School Eight for Equity!. In this back-to-school special, we’re featuring eight resources on affinity groups. Whether you are a frequent member of affinity groups or have never heard the term, there is something for you in this list. Read through to learn about what affinity groups are and how they are being used in businesses, schools, and non-profits around the country to advance conversations and action around equity!

  1. Addressing Racism in the Organization. Systemic racism in organizations is something all of us experience in this country, and the “nature of institutional racism is to downplay the role of white culture and privilege, pull towards a supposed ideal of colorblind fairness, and discourage talk about white racial identity.” So if we know that institutions are inherent breeding grounds for systemic racism, what can we do about it? The pursuit of becoming an anti-racist organization is the right direction, and white affinity groups are the tool to start. Check out this article to learn the reason why affinity groups can unlock the door to progress and how to get started with your own!
  2. Affinity Group Resource Page: Affinity Groups What, Why, and How. Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee is an educator and diversity consultant in the Greater Seattle Area. As an educator at Seattle Girls’ School, Lee has put together an open-source Google site loaded with affinity group resources. Resources include the implementation steps and timeline for Seattle Girls’ School, various potential affinities to form groups by, and training and facilitating guidelines and recommendations for faculty and staff. If you are looking to bring affinity group opportunities to your students, start here!

  3. Becoming an Anti-Racist White Ally: How a White Affinity Group Can Help. If you are a white person, pause to think how often in daily life most white people find themselves in white homogeneous groups. Yet the idea of being in an all-white group to discuss race seems so counter-intuitive. Why? White people can benefit tremendously from white affinity groups—as this reading will show. These groups provide space for white people to practice talking about race, to ask possibly ignorant questions, and examine our own racial identity and privilege. Engaging in white affinity groups helps prepare white people to engage in conversations about race in interracial groups—try it!
  4. Dialogue for Affinity Groups. For those of you who are already part of affinity groups and are looking to take your group to the next level, this guide is for you! From Everyday Democracy, the Dialogue for Affinity Groups is a facilitator guide for affinity groups that wish to follow a dialogue-to-change program. Following three steps of organize, hold dialogue, and act, this guide pairs with Everyday Democracy’s Facing Racism in a Diverse Nation.

  5. FAQ About Racial Affinity Groups. This is the perfect quick and easy guide to check out if you are hearing about the concept of affinity groups for the first time! The FAQ was created by the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York and provides a great model for other schools looking to implement affinity groups and share their work with families and the wider community.

  6. How Racial Affinity Groups Saved My Life. Author Trina Moore-Southall is an African American educator who works in an elite, independent school system. This article is her reflection on how affinity spaces are a place of encouragement and provide a sense of belonging, especially for people of color in predominately white organizations. As Moore-Southall puts it, “affinity groups for people of color can be magical places,” where people of color can share their hurt and be affirmed, empowered, and have their dignity preserved. My favorite part of this article is the “Becoming a Change Agent” section that provides a guide to help you get started with your own successful affinity group in your organization.

  7. Making Space: Affinity groups offer a platform for voices often relegated to the margins. As a non-profit organization, our own work with affinity groups is largely about adults, but affinity groups for students are as, if not more, important in schools. In this post from Teaching Tolerance, you will hear from students and teachers about how affinity groups are changing schools—schedules, policies, culture, etc.—through listening and collective action. In addition to a general guide for getting started, the article shares three characteristics of “Affinity Groups Gone Right: (1) Put students in charge, (2) Go beyond celebration, (3) Focus on empowerment or ally ship.

  8. Racial Affinity Group Guidelines. This resource is an excerpt from Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism from the Inside Out. My favorite feature from the resource is the recommended guidelines or ground rules for forming or sustaining a racial affinity group. What I love most is the centeredness of the guidelines—the fact that they look inward and focus on what you, as an individual, can do to be a present member of your group! This is a great resource for individuals who are currently part of an affinity group looking to make the most of their participation!


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