Boston Public Schools heavily promotes affinity groups for staff; specifically pushes affinity groups for staff who identify as white


Boston Public Schools appears to place a significant focus on affinity groups. The district has an “Anti-Racism Resources” page online that states:

In light of the state-sanctioned violence against Black people and the protests that they have inspired, here are some resources to navigate this historical moment.

One resource is a document labeled for “Staff Affinity Groups.” The document is titled “BPS Staff Affinity Groups: Guidelines and Best Practices.” The document provides numerous resources to help start affinity groups within the school district.

Affinity groups are groups of people segregated by their characteristics, such as race and sexual orientation. The document explains that “affinity groups are one important and effective tool in moving departments and schools along the continuum to become an anti-racist organization and institution.” The document also explains that affinity groups are only for specific people:

Affinity group membership is based on self-identification. Ask people what group or groups they would like to join; never assume you know how someone identifies. Some people with mixed heritage may want to join more than one group (ideally, groups should be scheduled at non-overlapping times for this reason). Sometimes it is helpful to have a separate affinity group or breakout sessions within an affinity group for people of mixed heritage.

The document then continues to explain:

However, it is important to clarify that these groups are not intended for those who want to learn more about someone else’s identity group, or learn how to advocate for another group. Affinity groups are for people who share a common identity.

One section in the document is titled “Resources and Best Practices for Anti-Racist Affinity Groups for White People.” The document explicitly states that white people are indoctrinated in “white supremacy.” The document explains:

Anti-racist affinity groups for White people are an opportunity to develop their understanding of the historical and current realities of how internalized, interpersonal, institutional, and systemic racism manifest; to face their indoctrination and participation in White supremacy; and become increasingly effective at disrupting racism, applying racial equity strategies, and building authentic relationships with people of Color. These affinity groups are a place for White people to take responsibility for their own learning.

The document then provides examples of white-based affinity groups within the school district. These include “BPS White School Leaders Committed to Anti-Racism,” “BPS White Central Office Staff Challenging Racism,” and “4 Session Affinity Group for White Parents and Staff at the Mendell.” The last affinity group here tells participants to “dare to be open and welcome discomfort.”

Boston Public Schools has resources for affinity groups.