A Place of Belonging

Parker’s new multi-racial affinity group brings multi-racial Upper School students together


Photo credit: Naomi Geller

Lyric Nelson, Izzy Markel, Naomi Geller, and Caleb Aklilu (top) posing at club fair in the fall.

How do multi-racial students fit into the many affinity groups Parker has to offer? What can the school do about multi-racial students feeling as though they are “not __ enough” to attend a racial affinity group meeting? Juniors Naomi Geller, Izzy Markel, Lyric Nelson, and Caleb Aklilu saw the need, and united to address it. As a result, Parker now has a Multi-racial affinity group, a space in which multi-racial students can feel heard and validated. Here’s what you need to know about the newly created Multi-racial affinity group.

MRA group was created with an intent to foster a place of belonging for multi-racial students, as oftentimes, there’s an awkward sense of displacement when attending an affinity group for a race that you partially identify with. “As a multi-racial student, it has been hard to find a place where I fit in. I am not truly asian and not truly white, and sometimes when fellow asian friends talk about their struggles, I feel like I can’t relate and I don’t have the right to relate because I’m not fully asian,” sophomore Uma Morris said. “MRA has been an amazing space to discuss this constant limbo between being asian and not”. 

The group’s founders started this group as a way to share the stories of multi-racial people and create a sense of community. “I am Mexican and African American, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with feeling a sense of belonging among the Black community. Since I present as Mexican, I have always associated more with my identity as a Mexican woman, so much so that I used to want to change my last name to my mother’s: Chavez. When I started my sophomore year at Parker, I decided to try going to BSU (Black Student Union) once, and I felt so guilty the entire time. I felt like an imposter”, Lyric Nelson said. Nelson demonstrates a belief that more support is needed for multi-racial students at Parker. “I feel like there is a little lack of support for multi-racial students, but honestly, it makes sense,” Nelson said, “Not a lot of people are aware of the sort of identity crisis a lot of multi-racial students experience, and you can’t get mad at someone for not helping you if they don’t know you need it.” 

GiGi Mathews, the faculty sponsor of the MRA group, believes this club greatly benefits multi-racial students. “Many of our group members have had many of the same experiences (both good and bad), and I think the affinity group allows them to see that they have a very understanding and cohesive group of peers who are there to support them”, Mathews said. “When I was approached to sponsor this club, I got so excited. After attending Asian Alliance meetings, I noticed that many of the students in Asian Alliance are also bi-racial. I know this is the case with many of the other affinity groups”. 

Meetings typically take place during lunch, where the group heads bring in snacks they love from different cultures. The last two meetings had a variety of delicious foods from H Mart, an Asain supermarket. During the meetings, the heads spark a conversation by telling the group about something they experienced, something they learned, or asking questions. The most recent meeting was December second, and the main topic was Thanksgiving. Members discussed their experiences being multi-racial during a holiday such as Thanksgiving, in which one is typically around only one side of their family. The group talked about feeling disconnected from a certain side of their family due to race, and the feeling of isolation when you don’t entirely fit in with one side of your family due to your race. When asked what he thought of the group, sophomore Akaash Nandi said, “I appreciate the atmosphere and the open space to talk about being multi-racial. There’s a really good sense of community, and I feel like everyone understands what everyone else is going through”.

Group heads Geller, Markel, Nelson and Aklilu are considering a name change from Multi-racial affinity group to Bi-racial affinity group in the future, and the group’s members have favorably responded to the idea. Irrespective of name, Parker’s Multi-racial Affinity Group invites all students of multi-racial background to join in on the conversation and feel at home.