race-based affinity groups

Besides climate change, racism is the single-biggest threat to humanity that we face. People use many methods in the work to end racism. This is one of them.

why do we caucus?
“The work we do is hard, but we do it anyway.”
Race-based caucusing is sometimes known as affinity groups. Caucusing provides a space to talk in community with those who share our racial identity. Caucusing can also provide belonging to people who feel isolated in white-dominant culture.

how do we caucus?
Caucuses can group people into whatever racial characteristics are present in your team. White, black and indigenous, people of color, and multi-racial folks are some of the most common. People with many racial identities can caucus with whichever group they choose.

what do we talk about?
Caucuses provide us a space to talk about race with people outside of work. It’s not enough to get together and talk. The framing for each group is how to support people who face oppression because of their race.

a note on confidentiality
Confidentiality is common in affinity groups. Talking about race requires vulnerability. Sharing our experiences can be deeply personal. When you leave a caucus, please don’t share what you hear. Instead, share how your caucus-mates’ stories make you feel. Share the perspectives or lessons you learned. Leave the details behind.

why do we caucus by race?
Think about something you’ve lived with for a long time, or know a lot about. For me, that’s the TV show Battlestar Galactica (BSG). If you don’t know anything about BSG, I’m going to talk to you about it in a different way. If you’re like me, you’ve lived and breathed the show (and own both the board game and two expansion packs). You and I are going to have a deeper conversation than I will with the person who has never seen the show.

For many people of color, race is like Battlestar Galactica. When we caucus by race, we can talk about our experiences freely. We don’t have to explain or introduce entry-level concepts to visitors. We can learn from each other while staying within a specific context.

I adapted some of the concepts from Dialogue for Affinity Groups, a publication of Everyday Democracy.