Engaging Across Difference
Affinity groups: divisive or unifying?
When asked the question “Don’t affinity groups just divide us instead of bringing us together?”, I reply with this. When a loved one is faced with having surgery, the pain or condition that necessitates the surgery impacts the stability of the family unit. Maybe the family is having to take off work to care for them or is making structural changes to their home to support them. While the family can show up to the waiting room with snacks, gifts, cards and love, the individual facing surgery must leave the family to be alone with a team of people who have a much deeper understanding of what is ailing this individual. Maybe something needs to be removed, or maybe something needs to be added, or maybe something broken needs to be mended. The time in the operating room is an intimate moment of care and healing that can only happen in a room of people who are skilled and trained to be able to restore this person to health and to return them to their family in a way that makes them whole again. This is what affinity spaces do for us. They are safe spaces where our questions make sense to the group, our feelings and lived experiences are shared, we are held, we are healed, we are made whole, and we are returned to the community as a whole person.