An Illinois high school principal is defending his decision to exclude white students from a “Black Lives Matter” event held at his school.
On February 27th, Oak Park and River Forest High School principal, Nathaniel Rouse, hosted a “Black Lives Matter” event exclusively for black students. The assembly was intended to culminate Black History Month with a discussion on race relations. Approximately 350 black individuals attended the event. When white students attempted to attend the assembly, however, they were denied entry.
Parents who were upset over the school’s decision to exclude non-black students from the event voiced their opinion to the Chicago Tribune. Rouse responded to the concerns of the parents by stating, “First and foremost, this is not meant to give a connotation that we were trying to be exclusive.”
In a statement on the Oak Park and River Forest High School website, the school addressed the controversy: “[S]ome students and parents expressed confusion and concern about the event being for Black students only. Information about the event lacked clarity about this aspect of the conversation, and the high school is committed to improving communications in the future. Further conversations among and across other racial affinity groups shall take place at the high school in the coming months and into next year.”
Rouse defended his decision to keep non-black students from the assembly by referring to the concept of “affinity groups.” According to the school’s statement, “Racial affinity groups are often used in learning communities to help facilitate positive identity exploration and provide people with similar experiences a space in which to pose questions and process topics.”
“According to Principal Rouse, the conversation was an opportunity for students who identify as Black to speak openly, honestly, and productively.”
Rouse told the Chicago Tribune affinity groups are helpful to discussions on race, as he “found it has been far easier for me to talk about my experiences with racism with individuals that look like me.” He added, “I still struggle myself with talking about my experiences with people who don’t look like me.” (RELATED: Berkeley Radicals Protest Professor For Mentioning BLACK-ON-BLACK CRIME)
Rouse hopes to host similar racial affinity group discussions in the future with different races, saying he believes “the affinity group is the safe way for us to move forward in a safe environment.”