- The Washington Times - Monday, March 9, 2015

A black high school principal in Oak Park, Illinois, is defending his decision to hold an event for “black students only,” so that they could safely discuss race issues without the presence of white people.

Oak Park and River Forest High School Principal Nathaniel Rouse hosted a “Black Lives Matter” event exclusively for black students at the school on Feb. 27, The Chicago Tribune reported

School officials sent out a news release following the event, after many white students were literally turned away at the door.

“(Some) students and parents expressed confusion and concern about the event being for black students only,” the release said. “Information about the event lacked clarity about this aspect of the conversation, and the high school is committed to improving communications in the future.”

Mr. Rouse said the decision to allow only black students was based on an idea known as affinity grouping, which allows people of one racial persuasion to express themselves fully and safely, The Tribune reported.

“In order for us to move forward, I believe the affinity group is the safe way for us to move forward in a safe environment,” Mr. Rouse said. “I found it has been far easier for me to talk about my experiences with racism with individuals that look like me. I still struggle myself with talking about my experiences with people who don’t look like me.”

Mr. Rouse said he hopes to have similar groups for white, Latino and Asian students, leading up to a school-wide event that lets all students talk about race together, The Tribune reported.

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