“Not the Time For Kumbaya”
An Exploratory Study of Race-Based Caucusing in the Social Work Classroom
Keywords:caucus, race-based, antiracism, social work education, race-based caucusing
This paper describes the use of race-based caucusing in a foundation-level MSW course focused on racism and other systems of oppression at a primarily White university in the Northeast. This technique was chosen based on the desire to allow space for students to examine and dismantle their internalized racialized socialization. This strategy was used in three sections of this course across two semesters, and this paper describes the findings of focus groups conducted with students at the end of each semester to understand their experiences with caucusing and their perceptions of the drawbacks and benefits of using this strategy in the classroom context. We discovered that student experiences of caucusing centered around the separate spaces that race-based caucusing created. Specifically, we learned from students that they had varied initial reactions to the idea of race-based caucusing as well as encountering challenges and seeing benefits to the strategy. As instructors, we provide our own experiences with caucusing and, based upon our analysis of the focus group data, conclude that this strategy yielded different results for BIPOC and White students and offer some suggestions to aid other instructors considering implementation.
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