Racial Affinity Group Caucusing Separate But Not Equal to Segregation

I read the New England Journal of Medicine perspective article “Racial Affinity Group Caucusing in Medical Education—A Key Supplement to Antiracism Curricula.”

I did not see the word “segregation” anywhere in the paper, although the Daily Mail news item used it frequently in a manner that I suspect was intended to incite indignation over separating White and Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) medical students into Racial Affinity Group Caucuses (RAGC). This was for the purpose of ultimately integrating them with the goal of defeating racism.

Words matter. The word “segregation” used in the way some news reporters did is bound to conjure up 1960s images of the effect of Jim Crow laws and remind those old to remember it the speech of Alabama governor George Wallace pledging “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

Separating people into groups for the purpose of working out a solution to racism can be called segregation only in the strictest sense of the definition. If you can separate denotation from connotation, I think you have to question the use of the word in the news article, which was heavily freighted with negative connotations.

When I was a student at Huston-Tillotson College (now H-T University, one of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities) in the 1970s, the Greek fraternity and sorority pledges were segregated from those who chose not to pledge, including me. I was really happy to be segregated when I witnessed the hazing of the pledges.

The women and men students at H-TU who lived on campus were segregated into male and female dormitories. This did not stop certain activities like dances and fraternity events.

I recall reading news stories a year or two ago about some black college students wanting to be segregated into different dormitories at predominantly white college campuses. I don’t agree with the idea, but it sounded like some black students preferred it.

I like my socks segregated from my dress shirts. But that’s just me.

%d bloggers like this: