People are often suspicious of racially-segregated space, with good reason. White folks don’t have a good history with regards to segregation, and many people believe no good can come from white people meeting together to discuss racism. An often-posed question about race-based caucusing is, “Doesn’t segregating by race make things worse?”
The short answer: It depends on what you’re doing in that space.
Racially-segregated space in which people are merely spending time with other people who look like them can be at best a comfy hangout and at worst a space where radicalization is happening.
Racially-segregated space in which people are reflecting on their own biases and the ways in which they can interrupt both interpersonal and institutional racism can be an amazing place to get some real work towards an antiracist future done.
As I laid out in my article Internal Race-Based Caucusing: Why Do It?,
Along with conversations about internalized racial oppression, caucusing for people of color builds collective voice and power, to see that personal frustrations are most likely shared experiences, and to strategize beyond survival.
For white people, examination of their own internalized racial superiority as well as the system of white supremacy that they benefit from is essential for devising ways to dismantle that supremacy. In a caucus setting, white folks can call each other in to the process of seeing the invisible, seeing their unconscious complicity in a system that is harmful to others, without causing additional harm to people of color.
Sometimes it can be helpful to split up along racial lines to talk about our experiences, encouraging us to make diverse spaces more welcoming for everyone.
© 2019 Judy Blair LLC