Caucus and Affinity Groups

White people and people of color each have work to do separately and together. Caucuses provide spaces for people to work within their own racial/ethnic groups. For white people, a caucus provides time and space to work explicitly and intentionally on understanding white culture and white privilege and to increase one’s critical analysis around these concepts. A white caucus also puts the onus on white people to teach each other about these ideas, rather than constantly relying on people of color to teach them. For people of color, a caucus is a place to work with their peers on their experiences of internalized racism, for healing and to work on liberation.

White people are often uncomfortable with the idea of white caucuses as part of racial equity work. A typical comment is “if we are working on racism, isn’t it better for us to learn together?” It does feel awkward to separate by race. Yet such separation occurs all the time in real life, and many times that reality is not understood or interrogated as it is when participating in a caucus. Since white people often find learning about whiteness and white privilege a steep learning curve, taking advantage of caucus time to do this work can be extremely useful. 

Groups that use caucuses in their racial equity work generally meet separately and then come back together for collective work. Accountability is a key principle of this work.

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