Harvard creates ‘race-based’ groups to discuss 'anti-Black racism'

Harvard’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion is offering group dialogues and separating participants by race.

Faculty and staff are divided into either 1) Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC), Multiracial, or Biracial or 2) White identified faculty and staff.

The Harvard Chan School of Public Health is offering opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to participate in a series of “race-based affinity groups.” Currently, these opportunities are only available for faculty and staff. 

However, students will be given the opportunity to participate in the series at a later time.

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The Chan School says the affinity groups provide “an opportunity for people to explore, unpack, and engage in conversation on the various interpersonal dynamics, beliefs, and thoughts that shape our racialized experiences as members of a community.”

“Because of who we are, our racial identities and lived experiences will inform the conversations and work that we do in affinity groups. These can be spaces for processing, healing, or deep interrogation of our own beliefs,” the website explains.

The purpose of the groups is to create a dialogue among individuals of the same identity. The website went on to say “Because of the presence of anti-Black racism, we want to create space to explore this aspect of racism as well. When participating in race-based affinity groups, there is work that we must do both within and across racial groups.” 

The sessions started in late October and run through March or April, depending on the group. The “focus” of sessions for White-identified faculty and staff include “personal awareness of areas needed for communication with peers of color,” “knowledge of how to move through discomfort to discuss race,” and “self-awareness on one’s own positionality and power.”

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The “focus” of BIPOC, multiracial, and biracial faculty and staff sessions include “knowledge of strategies of self-care and community care and networking while navigating racial terrain,” “discussion of how internalized anti-Blackness manifests in communities of color,” and “knowledge of how to engage difficult moments around race.”

Campus Reform reached out to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion but did not receive a response in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @ashleyecarnahan