Celebrating the First Anniversary of the DFM Social Justice "Book Club"
Colleagues Taking the Opportunity to Learn How to Make a DifferenceRobert | Family Medicine Dec 15, 2021
Lauri Connelly is a Research Services Principal Professional in the Department of Family Medicine. She has formally supported the Diversity and Health Equity program for the past two years, but has been an advocate her entire life.
I was 45 years old when I read the book Hidden Figures. Beyond being in awe of what these women did in the environment in which they did it, I was at a loss as to why I didn’t know about this. I have no innate talent for the kind of work they did, but I’ve always been fascinated by it and admire those who can. Why didn’t I learn about them in school? I graduated from high school “only” 19 years later. It’s not like their contributions could have been lost to time at that point. This realization really bothered me. They could have been role models! As a woman who grew up in a predominately white, conservative and rural midwestern town - but one who considered herself well read and always curious about the world - I finally understood that my education failed me. How many “me(s)” are out there?
I tell you this because people in our department are addressing our need for more knowledge and understanding. Over a year ago, Heather Bleacher had an idea, a plan, a vision, and enough determination to move the needle in our efforts to better understand and support diversity, inclusion, and equity in the department. When asked, Heather shared her inspiration. “The book club started in Spring 2020 in the midst of the racial reckoning after George Floyd was murdered. I reached out via the Justice League listserv saying that I felt like I had so much to learn about racism, other forms of discrimination, and other social justice issues.” The positive response was immediate.
The DFM Social Justice “Book” Club meets once every 6 weeks to discuss books, podcasts, movies, and other forms of media that shed new light on these issues. And, in an effort to accommodate all of our busy schedules, four dates and times are available. We are all grateful for Deanna Schroder, Lynne Jones, Charity Lehn, and Jacqueline Calderone for doing such a wonderful job of facilitating group discussion.
Fast forward one year. On a beautiful fall evening that would have been a perfect setting for an in-person meeting, our book club met to celebrate its first anniversary. Sadly, because of the delta variant, we had to meet by Zoom. I’ve attached a summary of our discussion.
I also heard from Deanna, who has been with the club since its inception. “It’s been an honor – and an eye-and-heart-opening experience to participate in the Social Justice “Book” Club and lead the lunchtime sessions. Every. Single. Time. I am struck by my privilege and the impetus to “do more” with it. Our lunchtime group has largely been “woke white women,” and we have (I think/hope) finally overcome our guilt and are steeled to be strong allies in moving this very important work forward. We are SO grateful to Heather for setting this up and can’t wait for the next topic.”
Personally, I was surprised to read an email from Cleveland that shared a sentiment that I had, even though our life experiences are vastly different. He wrote: “As we did a deep dive into racism. I was surprised by how much I learned about our history and a bit angry about how I never learned about most of this throughout my nearly 25 years of education. It was hard, though important to wrestle with aspects of my experience that have been challenging and learning about the experiences of others. I also reflect on the privilege I have to be able to separate myself emotionally from the struggle of other marginalized identities and hope I can be a voice and provide a space for others to share their truth and be lifted up in our department, community, and society.”
I hope I can be a strong voice as well. I hope you feel the same way.
If you are interested in learning more or signing up to participate in the book club, reach out to us at DFM.DEI@cuanschutz.edu. We hope to hear from you!