New Race-Based Caucuses and Affinity Groups

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A video call on a laptop computer with four women of color.
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The most recent killings of Black citizens by law enforcement, the protests led by the Black Lives Matter movement, the long history of police brutality against Black people, and structural racism in this country have led to pain, frustration and exhaustion, particularly for our Black colleagues. 

Many of you have been having difficult conversations about race and the history of racism in our country with your family, friends and coworkers. Many of you have also asked to have more formalized, supportive spaces to talk, be heard and grieve here in our work environment. We want to provide that space through the use of virtual affinity groups and race-based caucuses.

Race-based caucuses and affinity groups help organizations advance equity, diversity and inclusion goals by providing a formal resource for staff and leaders to acknowledge, discuss and dismantle oppressive systems from within by starting with the difficult conversations. For individual members, these groups provide:

  • A supportive and protected space for marginalized groups to discuss issues affecting them, without the need to educate or explain to the privileged group or mitigate “white fragility.”
  • An opportunity for marginalized groups and the privileged group to stand in their own identities and experiences to explore the intersections of race, power and privilege.
  • A space for community strengthening and education from within the group without external influence.
  • Encouragement for the privileged group to educate themselves and stand in their discomfort rather than burdening the marginalized groups with the expectation to be educated by them about oppression.
  • A space that allows those who want to stand in solidarity with marginalized groups to learn how to move from being motivated by shame and guilt to recognizing and thoughtfully using their power and privilege.

Specific affinity groups can include: Black, LatinX, Asian, Jewish, LGBTQ+, white and women’s groups.

Beginning later this week, UW Medicine will host three separate virtual caucus groups: one for Black colleagues, a second for white colleagues and a third for people of color (POC). Staff who wish to participate are asked to join the group that they identify with. Each group will have a facilitator and virtual breakout rooms will be used for discussions. While facilitators will take notes, no one will be identified, and the gatherings will not be recorded. 

Dates, times and registration links

Many of you also requested a resource list of healthcare equity and anti-racist materials as a way to heal, educate yourselves and take action. This list includes resources for Black mental health and well-being created by and for Black people, along with articles on solidarity and healing. You will also find materials on historical and present-day racism in the United States, including racial inequity in the healthcare system. Please use these resources to help deepen anti-racist action and conversation.

Finally, you can learn more about what UW Medicine is doing to reduce disparities in healthcare delivery and access further resources on the UW Medicine Office of Healthcare Equity’s website.

Sincerely,

Paula L. Houston, EdD
Director, Healthcare Equity
Office of the Chief Medical Officer
UW Medicine

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