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Race-based Affinity Groups

Purpose of Race-Based Affinity Groups

  • Providing people with the chance to explore, unpack, and engage in conversations about our racialized experiences. 

  • Sharing and exploring your experiences in a supportive space defined by a specific identity group. These spaces can be for processing, healing, or a deep interrogation of your own beliefs. 

  • Facilitating opportunities to discuss issues related to racial/ethnic identity development. For BIPOC participants this might include affirming lived experiences and creating fellowship. For white participants this might include examining what it means to be white in a racist world and creating a community to help you understand how to be anti-racist. 

  • Envisioning and sharing strategies for greater racial justice in our lives and communities.

  • Centering your control of your own growth and development process with respect to issues of equity and social justice.

Who will be in the Affinity Group?

  • Workshops and Training Sessions (1 session) will have a minimum of two facilitators (either BIPOC or white, depending on the affinity requirements of the session) and a maximum of 40 participants. Most of these sessions will be offered as affinity spaces for either BIPOC or white people. However, occasionally a session will be offered that will bring together BIPOC and white participants. These sessions will often include the chance to break-out into smaller BIPOC or white affinity groups.

  • BIPOC Affinity Groups and White Accountability Groups (4 sessions) will have a minimum of two BIPOC or two white facilitators and a maximum of 22 participants who identify as either BIPOC or white.

  • Affinity groups are designed to encourage interaction among members of similar racial/ethnic backgrounds. Although many of us have multiple identities, racial affinity group sessions join people into community based on their racial and ethnic identity. It is for this reason that we ask you to join the group that aligns with your racial/ethnic identity upon registration and/or you may be asked to identify your racial/ethnic identity when signing-up. You should be able to say “I am ____” and speak to aspects of that groups’ collective racial experience.

  • To preserve the safety and integrity of each affinity group space, you should attend only those sessions that correspond with the racial and ethnic identity with which you identify. This is not a space to learn about the racial or ethnic identity of others, including that of a child, spouse, or partner.

  • For BIPOC participants, the experience of only having BIPOC people in the conversation relieves some of the burden of having to code-switch and to explain or defend your experiences. Also, it presents an opportunity to find solidarity and to celebrate your identity.

  • For white participants, the experience of holding each other accountable, learning without offending, reflecting on what it means to be white in the context of systemic race-based oppression, and taking responsibility for developing your own social justice awareness without burdening BIPOC people with this task are fundamental aspects a white affinity group experience. 

Who will facilitate the conversations?

  • There will be two trained facilitators in every session.

  • Facilitators guide the conversations and share their own experiences and reflections, but they will not provide a set curriculum or content to be learned by the participants. This is not a workshop.

  • We affirm that people are capable of having conversations that matter and hope you join these conversations with the understanding that every participant has a responsibility to self-manage and take collective responsibility for ensuring that the group interacts respectfully and meets their own and others’ needs for authenticity and personal growth. 

  • There are times that you will be in smaller breakout groups, and those conversations will be self-managed. 

What are the ground rules?

  • WE STRIVE TO GROW - We aim to have an affirming experience in which to grow together.

  • WE SPEAK FRO OURSELVES - We speak from the "I" perspective.

  • WE ENCOURAGE REFLECTION - We deepen our awareness about our impact, role, and responsibilities in social systems. 

  • WE ARE PRESENT  - We commit to bringing our whole selves as we are able. 

  • WE ARE BRAVE - We foster a brave space for meaningful conversations.

  • WE FOCUS ON COMMUNITY BUILDING - We support each other as a community of life long learners. 

  • WE LISTEN - We balance sharing with listening.

  • WE ADDRESS DIFFICULT MOMENTS - We acknowledge intent and assess impact. We strive to address difficult moments in a constructive way for all.

  • WE MAINTAIN CONFIDENTIALITY - What's said here stays here. What's learned here leaves here.


How will we make sure that everyone has the chance to share?

  • We will often use serial testimony as a democratic process to ensure that everyone has an equal voice, and an equal allotment of time.

  • The purpose of serial testimony is to help you:

    • speak to the essence of what you want to say,

    • to ensure that single voices do not dominate the conversation,

    • to allow everyone's stories equal time and equal consideration.

  • As a listener, your role is as important as the role of the speaker. You are acknowledging someone else's experience. You are looking for similarities in your experiences. You have the privilege of learning from others and taking that learning with you when you leave.

What is expected of participants?

If you sign up for a BIPOC affinity group we ask that you:

  • Join the zoom meetings with video enabled.

  • Complete any tasks that are sent in advance to inform and guide the discussion. 

  • Participate in small group discussions and be willing to both share and listen.

  • Reflect on and share your experiences with racism using prompts like “​Share a story when you engaged in a difficult conversation about your racial identity” or “Share a story about a moment when you faced internalized racism within yourself” or “Share a strategy of self-care and community-care when navigating racial terrain.”

If you sign up for a white accountability group we ask that you:​

  • Join the zoom meetings with video enabled.

  • Complete any tasks that are sent in advance to inform and guide the discussion. 

  • Participate in small group discussions and be willing to both share and listen.

  • Reflect on and share your journey towards anti-racism using prompts like "Share the story of time when you wanted to speak out against racism but did nothing" or "Share the story of a time when you were aware of your own racial prejudice" or "Share a story about a significant event that shaped how you understand your whiteness."

~ Adapted from the following sources: Emily Style and Linda Powell’s “Diversity Literacy,” 1995, from “Ground Rules for Good SEEDING” by Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity, and from the NAIS People of Colour Conference’s “Affinity Groups as Self Managed Conversations.”

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