How it All Began
Many years ago, one of our founding faculty members, Rosetta Lee, noticed a trend among her Asian students. At lunchtime, they all ended up at the same lunch table with her. Although she wanted to think it was just because of her teaching, or maybe her sparkling personality, she discovered that part of the reason was because they'd never had an Asian teacher before. The students, many of whom had been adopted by non-Asian parents, were seeking a bond with her and the other Asian students. Although she loved that they found a shared connection with her, she also wanted to encourage them to make connections with other students. Through this process, though, she realized the need for a space where these students, as well as other students who have a shared identity, can connect and share experiences that relate to that identity. Thus, Affinity Groups at SGS were born!
Through her research, Rosetta learned that by third grade, students begin to become very aware of stereotypes and the messaging they receive. By fifth grade, they begin to internalize those stereotypes and messages. Middle school, then, is a critical time to have a supportive space for students during this development. Affinity Groups provide a place for students to internalize positive messages about their identity and for them to know they’re not alone in their experiences.
Ideally, every teacher would be aware of the history, background, and cultural nuances of every student. Since this is impossible, we choose to leverage the knowledge and personal experiences we have in our faculty and staff when we hold Affinity Groups and Alliance Groups for students. When these groups gather, both adults and students share that, "Yes, the same things happen to me!" They share how they've managed various situations with each other and how they can move forward.
Who better to explain what it means to have the opportunity to participate in an Affinity Group than two of our students? Watch this 55 second video for a little insight on their participation in our Multiracial Affinity Group:
Clarifying the Difference
We use the term Affinity Group to define a bringing together of people who have an identifier in common (race, religion, family status, etc.). Affinity Groups are for individuals who identify as members of the group and can speak to the experience of being a member of the group from the “I” perspective.
The term Alliance Group is used for a group that brings people together who have a common commitment to an identifier group (race, religion, family status, etc.). Alliance Groups are for individuals who identify as members of the group and/or as people who support and stand in solidarity with that group.
This year we will hold the following Affinity and Alliance Groups:
- African American Affinity
- Multiracial (Mixed Chicks) Affinity
- Asian and Pacific Islander Affinity
- Alphabet Alliance (LGBTQ)
- White (Allies) Affinity
- Alphabet Affinity
- Latino/a Affinity
- Jewish Affinity
- Adoption Affinity
Understandably, Affinity Groups and Alliances may raise questions for some who are unfamiliar with them. As a starting point to understanding, consider the "affinity spaces" in which many adults participate. We often have memberships in professional organizations, or we may gather together for religious purposes. These groups often occur naturally, based on various identities we hold. If you're interested in learning more, visit Rosetta's Affinity Group Resource Page here »
Resources for Understanding Affinity Groups
Rosetta, as an expert in diversity training, regularly speaks about Affinity Groups throughout the country. In her presentation to the National Association of Independent School's People of Color Conference, she outlined several great reasons for starting Affinity Groups. They include safety and comfort to be authentic, affirmation, building resilience, and preparing to engage deeply with other groups. See the full list here »
Wednesday Workshop Info [for parents] here »
CAP [Community Association of Parents]
[Full SGS Calendar here » ]