Umoja – the Swahili word for “unity” – represents community among a group of people. At Concord Academy, Umoja is the Black affinity group on campus whose weekly meetings are open to any student, faculty, or staff that identify as African, African-American, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latine, or Black. This academic year the club is under the leadership of Ravyn Hamer ’22 and myself, Casey Bakarani ’22. 

Umoja strives to foster a space where Black members of the CA community can come regardless of how they are feeling, and do everything from talk about their week to get advice from people who have faced similar struggles being a minority student at a predominately white institution. After coming out of a year and a half of COVID, Umoja is placing a deep emphasis on joy and healing. 

When asked about what she is striving to change, Ravyn said “I want this space to be more of an affinity group than a social justice group.”

Recently, Umoja organized two workshops on Martin Luther King Jr. Day called the Ice Cream Workshop. Two grades participated in two one hour sessions of the Ice Cream game, in which they were tasked with creating a school in three different groups each with different resources and access to individuals in power. The goal of the activity was designed to educate CA students on how we live in a world where everyone is expected to achieve the same goals, but some people are given a leg up while others are starting from underground.

Looking ahead to Black History Month, Umoja hopes to expose the community to Black voices and stories from a new perspective. The theme of the month is Black joy and healing. Some initiatives include a playlist featuring songs by Black artists, a daily email featuring an influential Black individual, and a screening of the documentary Summer of Soul

Umoja continues to create a space for Black individuals to feel comfortable with their identities in a space that can, at times, feel quite isolating. If you identify as Black, Umoja meets weekly in the DO during club blocks on Fridays! If not, not to worry as the club will be hosting several events open to the entire community throughout the month of February and the remainder of the school year!