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.

59 thoughts on “Rising up

  1. Amalia, I bought 50 copies (paperback on backorder) for my dept/residents. I’d appy to sponsor two more individuals!

  2. Aspiring surgeon, current MD-PhD candidate, would love to be a part of this reading group!

  3. Dr. Cochran,

    This is an incredible idea. I also want to educate myself on this topic but know I would strongly benefit from the structure of a reading group. I’m anticipating a massive adjustment/rude awakening with the start of intern year, but that isn’t an excuse to push off facing racism head on. I would be delighted to participate in your reading group. Thank you for putting this together! Also, best of luck in Montana!! I’ve heard it’s absolutely gorgeous.


  4. I will be an incoming PGY-1 general surgery resident at Northwestern. Thank you for organizing!

    1. Dr. Cochran,

      I absolutely would love to join this, and think it’s an excellent idea. I’m sure intern year will be difficult, but change needs to happen now. People we love are absolutely counting on it.


      1. Fourth year med student and aspiring surgeon at UMMS. Thank you so much for organizing this!! I am in !

  5. Sign me up and count me to also sponsor 2 books per month for trainees. I’ll give the first shot to my own residents. Dan Dent

  6. Hello Dr. Cochran.

    Thank you for organizing this learning community! I am a third-year general surgery resident who needs a little peer-pressure to read books outside the world of surgery. I look forward to start learning with everyone here!

  7. I’m in! Doing a family book club this summer on same theme with my teenagers, but totally open to loading up and learning! Thanks for doing this, Mali!

    1. This is a great idea! I’m gonna host for my department at WVU! We want to do a part of this change! Great idea!

  8. Hi Amalia,
    I’m a colleague of Yuk- Pulm/CC (not a surgeon!) I would love to join also if you are open to this.

  9. I’m in! Thanks so much for organizing this initiative. I’ve cheated and already read the book but can’t wait for the discussion.

  10. Count me in! I will also sponsor 2 trainees. Thanks for this great idea!

  11. Thank you for organizing this. I am a general surgery resident and would love to participate.

  12. Dr. Cochran,
    I’m heartened by your efforts in this struggle. You’re truly a healer….not only in the medical sense but in humanity. We have a unique platform as surgeons to address this issue. The more of us, the better. We need a critical mass of all races to commit to this cause, and to rid our society of this disease…
    Thank you!!

    1. Thank you for the incredibly kind words. We definitely all have to be in this together.

  13. This is perfect! I tend to Scatter my reading over 4-5 books at a time but this will actually help keep me on track! Cant wait to read Julys book!

  14. Dr. Cochran,

    Thank you so much for organizing this! I am an M1 at Rutgers NJMS and an aspiring surgeon. I am really excited to grow and learn and challenge each other as a community.

  15. General surgery resident from UW, would love to be part of this as well! Thank you for the inspiration and organization.

  16. I’m a PGY-4 general surgery resident in NYC and would love to take part in this book club. Thank you Dr. Cochran for organizing and for your leadership.

  17. I’d like to participate and learn but not sure I can make every meeting. Would love to be part of the discussion.

    1. That’s why I’m planning for us to do MOST of the work asynchronously; hopefully that will help keep everyone engaged when it works for them. So glad to have you here!

  18. Hello,

    I’m a currently first year general surgery resident. Would love to join this group and delve more into conversations about anti-racism. Thanks for getting this started!

  19. Dr. Cochran,

    Inspiring idea, and would love to participate. I’m also sharing this with my trainees (general surgery and integrated vascular) and have offered to sponsor the reading materials for any of them who wish to participate. Thank you for speaking up and organizing this. Looking forward to the ongoing conversation and education.

    1. Dr. Cochran,
      General Surgeon in practice. I’m interested in joining and will be willing to sponsor rotating family medicine residents and medical students if they wish to participate and will share this with my partners as well. Hoping to keep the momentum for change going.

  20. Dr. Cochran,
    Thanks for organizing this. Wonder if you would consider posting this opportunity on American College of Surgeons General Surgery Community?

    1. Julie, I sent you an email…that’s food for thought, definitely!

  21. Dr. Cochran,
    This seems like a great idea and learning experience I would love to participate. I’m also sharing this with my trainees and I will sponsor the reading materials for any of them who wish to participate. Thank you for organizing this. Looking forward to participating .

    1. Burton, thank you for joining and for your generosity! I’ve sent you an email with the Slack channel link. Welcome.

  22. Hello! I am an incoming general surgery resident I would love to be a part of this reading group. I finished White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo this January, and recently finished Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington. How to be an Anti-Racist was next on my list and I am very excited to read it with all of you!

  23. Dr. Cochran, I am a current General Surgery resident. This is a wonderful idea. Please count me in!

  24. Dr. Cochran – thank you for this. I’m a resident and I look forward to participating.

    1. Dr. Cochran,
      Please add me in! I’m looking forward to participating and contributing.

  25. Amalia, would love to join if you still have “room” on zoom. I could sponsor our burn fellows at Hopkins.

  26. This is a fantastic idea. I will be sponsoring any of the general surgery residents and SCC fellows at my institution who wish to participate. I see names of my former co-residents, current trainees, and colleagues across the country on the list and am so looking forward to this. Thank you for bringing this group together!

  27. I am a rising PGY 5 participating with Dr. Ottinger’s resident group at USF. We have several residents joining in. Thank you for organizing!