ERIC Number: EJ1191537
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018
Black Commencement and the Value of Affinity Initiatives
Roane, David H.
Thought & Action, v34 n1 p49-58 Sum 2018
While the existence of affinity initiatives, like Harvard's Black Commencement--a commencement exercise intended solely for its Black students--may seem to perpetuate the social isolation of minority students, the opposite is true. By addressing minority feelings of otherness and exclusion, these measures not only strengthen individual groups, but also strengthen the larger community. As sources of refuge and sanctuary, affinity initiatives provide a temporary reprieve from the existential tax burdened by the occasion of one's "othered" status, effectively closing any emotional advantage gap between social groups. This article discusses the following purposes that relief can assume through affinity initiatives: (1) refuge from ambassadorship; and (2) refuge from duality: a sanctuary for personal wholeness. The article also discusses the concerns surrounding affinity initiatives, such as whether or not they perpetuate feelings of isolation among minorities, serving to further any existing isolation. Ultimately, for affinity initiatives to work, they must be about wholeness--on all levels. They must function to heal both the minority group and its individual members, as well as the larger community. In fact, the relationship is causal. Heal the individual; heal the community.
Descriptors: African American Students, Social Isolation, Minority Group Students, Graduation, College Students, Race, Racial Relations, Racial Differences, Racial Identification, College Graduates, Student Diversity, Alienation
National Education Association. 1201 16th Street NW Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-833-4000; Fax: 202-822-7974; Web site: http://www.nea.org
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Massachusetts (Cambridge)