By Samara Kinyanjui’27
At The Frederick Gunn School, feeling welcomed and comfortable is the school’s goal. One of the ways the school tries to incorporate safe spaces is by having affinity groups. BALU, a black and latinx student union, is one of many communities where students can express their cultural and familial background. Having a group of people that includes various combinations of unique backgrounds is what makes BALU special.
BALU is a space where people of Latinx and Black backgrounds can go and talk about the issues that they may face. Having a space to share feelings and emotions that others can relate to is comforting because sharing problems that may or may not be racial that occur in the community brings people closer together and forms a trustful relationship. Being inclusive and encouraging of one’s culture helps build up the mentality of how important culture is to a person’s identity. “People with similar backgrounds, academic and personal interests, and especially those from underrepresented groups, often find these organizations can greatly influence their workplace experience” (Insight Into Diversity, Mariah Bohanon). Helping others recognize and appreciate their culture is a great way to be a supportive person.
Race has an effect on everything. Whether it is school or work, race has a big impact on life. Choosing to embrace one’s identity can help with how a person’s life evolves. Learning about other cultures is essential to being able to understand the person. By attending BALU meetings, Gunn students are able to educate others on black and latinx history and culture, which in turn helps strengthen the community. At Gunn, educating others on different cultures is what BALU does.
President of BALU Aryel Sealey shared what she thinks BALU does for the Gunn community. “BALU’s significance is to create a safe space for Black and Latino students during their high school period. What heightens this is that most participating members are boarders, so facilitating that space where these students live helps create and deepen their sense of community. The idea that everyone in our student body is supportive and welcoming is a great value we all try to follow.
However, there’s more comfort in knowing that there is a group one can relate to that supports them on a whole new level. In addition to that, we try to integrate ourselves in many aspects, whether that be bringing awareness to a variety of topics, showing support to other affinity groups on campus, and, in the future, being more active off campus. Although this is my first year leading BALU, it’s guaranteed that this will be an incredible learning opportunity and journey for me. I’m excited about what BALU can do for me and what the members and I can bring to the school.” BALU does various things for the community, and it is important that the school realizes that.