In his article “Black Commencement and the Value of Affinity Initiatives,” visual arts faculty member David Roane offers a thoughtful defense of Harvard’s Black Commencement and similar affinity initiatives.
The article, published in the summer 2018 edition of the National Education Association’s Thought & Action journal, details the importance of these initiatives for minority groups and their benefits to healing the wider community in which these groups have been marginalized.
As Roane argues, “The process governing any affinity initiative involves two steps. First is a necessary retreat inwards within the minority group, where, swaddled in the sanctuary of common experiences, members start to feel whole again. As a result, members emerge galvanized and stronger, and better able to engage the second step, which must be re-entry within the larger community. The first step is analytical in nature, involving a descent into “I”; the second step is synthetic, commanding a re-formulation back into “We.” Indeed, Harvard Black Commencement 2017 was conceived with this two-step process in mind, as Black students also were slated to attend Harvard’s regular commencement two days later.”