MS creates safe spaces

In the Middle

What are affinity groups and why are they in place? Affinity groups or clubs let people share a common interest or traits with one another.

The Kingswood Oxford Middle School has established two affinity groups in the past three months.

One group was begun by eighth-grader Elyana Alleyne, known as Ely.

She established a club as a safe space for students of color where they can talk about matters that they cannot discuss inside of the classroom.

β€œWe go over how to deal with being a student of color in a mostly white setting and also about our hair, different hairstyles, and how people touch our hair and about different experiences we have had where we have been singled out in situations,” Ely said. β€œAlso that we are not alone in these situations.”

Director of Cultural Diversity and Cultural Competence Joan Edwards is the Faculty Advisor for this group. β€œThis will let students of color have a connection and learn how to have a voice and learn about topics that the group talks about and talking about them in bigger groups,” Ms. Edwards said.

β€œAlso knowing what I know about identity development, students of color will feel a sense of belonging because the group makes their members feel more confident and grounded with who they are,” she said.

Another affinity group began just two months after Ely created the group for students of color.

The Jew and Jewish Allies Club was started by eighth-grader Jacob Joseph.

β€œI want everyone who feels different to know they are not alone, no matter if they are Jewish, black, hispanic or in the LGBTQ community,” he said. I wanted to not just have a club for Jews but for their allies too because I wanted those in my group who are Jewish to know that people support them,” Jacob said.

History teacher Andy Krugman jumped at the opportunity to join this group as the faculty advisor.

β€œI think clubs almost always work out better when made and orchestrated by a student,” Mr. Krugman said.

Jacob began this club to discuss discrimination and hate, no matter who it is towards. β€œOne should not be penalized just for being themselves; they should be living freely just like everyone else,Β¨ Jacob said

The club Ely started plans to meet during lunch on Wednesdays and the Jew and Jewish ally club will meet Fridays during choice time.

All interested students are encouraged to drop by and check out what they do or join in the conversation.