Rising up

“Justice is what love looks like in public.”– Cornel West

Y’all. It’s been a WEEK, hasn’t it?

Truth that we need to remember: It’s been “this way” for a long, long time (and when I say “it” I mean “unjust American culture that provides privilege to White people”). Centuries. I’m not too proud to admit that I have benefitted, and continue to benefit from these systems. And yet…I don’t want the things that benefit me to come at a cost to BIPOC communities.

It doesn’t have to be like this…right?

Next truth: While the ambient energy right now definitely provides a sense of urgency, we must sustain that energy to make any meaningful and durable change. It’s easy to be distracted by the next shiny object, or to grow tired from working intensely, and isn’t it nice to have the choice to just “turn off” for a while? (Again, privilege.) The work of learning and listening and unlearning and creating deserves better than for us to get distracted or to do it half-heartedly. And if you happen to look like me, you’ve not had to do this work every single day to justify your personal of professional existence like our BIPOC colleagues have; we can (and should) choose to dig deep and sustain.

What I realize that I most need right now, and I suspect I speak for many of us who are exploring how to make a difference, is active hope- hope that is predicated on setting goals, creating plans, and taking action. How can I be an agent for change?

I’ve had to spend some time considering what I love to do and where I can find my greatest contribution, which always drives me towards ideas around teaching and learning, as well as creating places for dialogue. I want for my “active hope” activity to reflect both my skills and my passion so it can be of service.

So, here’s my active hope that I’m committing to, and any of you reading are welcome to (1) join and (2) hold me accountable to keep us going. For (at least) the next 12 months, I will organize and guide an Anti-Racism Reading Group for Surgeons and Aspiring Surgeons. I’ve curated a list of books- more than three years’ worth if we read one a month- and intend to work our way through 10-12 of them over the next year. We’ll meet virtually, which allows for mostly asynchronous discussion, with a wrap-up at the end of each month that we’ll initially try to do synchronously (but still virtually, unless you’re coming to me in Montana). I WANT us to respectfully ask one another hard questions. I WANT us to grow and learn together. I WANT us to make the world around us more just.

Totally Selfish Confession: I know that I need to do this work, and I know that I do my best learning in community. I’m pushing myself and I aspire to at least nudge you too. Let’s be uncomfortable together, please and thanks.

If you are interested in joining me for the Anti-Racism Reading Group for Surgeons and Aspiring Surgeons, please reach out via comment or social media and I’ll get you signed up! School starts July 1, and our first lesson will be Ibram X. Kendi’s How to be an Anti-Racist.

Also, I will be sponsoring a copy of the book for two trainees, so if you are a resident or student who will be joining us, LMK and I’ll get you the July book in your format of choice.