You are invited to participate in 2021-2022 Solidarity Affinity Circles for Racial Justice!
Dear OUSD Community,
We continue to be outraged about the systemic and institutional violence that our Black community is forced to deal with on a daily basis, along with the ways other communities of color are targeted, and we know that it can be difficult to hold this pain and anger while at the same time holding increased responsibility to care for our families and move our work forward.
In 2020-2021, we held racial/cultural affinity groups open to all staff in OUSD, and we heard from many staff that they would like to see these conversations and community-building continue. So we would like to invite you to join us back throughout this school year, especially as mental health challenges can deepen the longer the pandemic continues and as our nation continues to grapple with the polarization of racial identity and politics.
These affinity groups are based on how you self-identify to create a safe and open space for participants. These solidarity affinity groups are vital spaces for us to heal, share authentically and openly, and unpack the varying impacts of racism in our own lives as we consider the strategic actions we can take.
If you are interested in participating, you can register to receive announcements for upcoming dates:
Black Staff Affinity Group Register
[Last Tuesdays of Each Month 4-6pm]
Multi-Racial Staff Affinity Group Register
Asian & Pacific Islander Staff Affinity Group Register
Latin-X & Indigenous Affinity Group Register
Jewish Staff Affinity Group Register
Arab American Staff Affinity Group Register
White Staff Affinity Groups Register
We shared out reflections from fall semester circles at the February 19, 2021 Buyback Day Racial Justice, Equity & Healing Summit.
In order to support our students and families, we must also prioritize our wellness and self-care as OUSD staff. We hope you are all taking steps to prioritize your own nourishment during this challenging time, and invite you to this opportunity to find solidarity and common bond in each of our experiences as we build stronger and come together as a unified district.
OUSD Racial Justice, Equity & Healing Taskforce Members
Urana Jackson, Behavioral Health
Cynthia Bagby, Redwood Heights
Mara Larsen-Fleming, Health & Wellness
Priscilla Parchia, Expanded Learning
Chen Kong-Wick, Expanded Learning
Barb McClung, Behavioral Health
Denise Curtis, Restorative Justice Practitioner
David Yusem, Restorative Justice Coordinator
Taji Brown, African American Male Achievement
Allison Henkel, Leadership Growth & Development
Susan Andrien, Behavioral Health
Griffen Castillo, Racial Justice Fellow & Oakland Tech Class of 2019
Munera Mohsin, Office of Equity Family Empowerment
Lailan Sandra Huen, Office of Equity
What is an Affinity Group?
An affinity group is a group of people who share common experiences or interests that supports each other and works together to change the world.
Social change work can be challenging. Acting alone, we may feel powerless to create real change. An affinity group can provide practical support as well as inspiration, motivation, fun, and a sense of collective momentum and action.
Americans are increasingly isolated. Mainstream culture encourages us to be cut-off from each other, relying on money, corporate products, and screen time to fill our needs. In the mainstream culture in the United States, people often act as individuals, rather than in solidarity with others.
Many in the U.S. have lost community-building skills because of this, so we can re-learn them by being part of supportive affinity groups. These skills make us all better educators and leaders. Affinity groups support each other in taking “direct action,” and members can take on different roles so everyone can participate.
Adapted from The Resilience Circle Network
Want to start Racial Justice Affinity Circles at your school site, or help to lead a new one?
If you'd like to start up racial justice affinity circles at your school site, here is a folder of resources to get started, and Taskforce Members can support as well.
If you are not able to participate in the Spring Fellowship but would like support or information for future cohorts and training opportunities, please sign up here!
If you see a group not included above and want to start a new circle, please get in touch and we can add it to the list and support!
1st OUSD Racial Affinity Group Facilitator Fellowship
In the Spring of 2021, OUSD piloted a Racial Affinity Group Facilitator Fellowship designed for facilitators who lead racial affinity groups in district departments or schools - one tool in our toolbelt for racial healing.
The fellowship included a series of four 2-hour training sessions on February 19th, 26th, and March 5th, 12th, and a reflection and goal setting session on April 16th.
25 fellows were in the first cohort, and we will be partnering with targeted school sites to continue to build capacity to hold affinity spaces for the 2021-22 school year.