School of Nursing

June 19, 2020

In Honor of Juneteenth

From George Floyd’s tragic death to our recent conversations about antiracism, there are many voices saying—and many acknowledging—that there is much work to be done in order to finally and fully address the issue of racism that so hinders and disables our society.

Some of those voices express publicly and communally the pain people feel and the demand for not just incremental but rather transformational change.

For many, there is the realization that they must also do something at the personal level to better understand both the complex historical and structural issues involved and start to identify possible solutions. I am pleased the Health Sciences Common Book choice for 2020-21 has provided us one common place for us all to start: How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi.

Kendi makes a powerful argument that it is not enough to be “not racist.” In order to achieve the needed institutional changes, people must become antiracist. He sees, even in himself, how readily subtle racist ideas were established and the myriad ways they were connected to larger societal and structural pillars that ultimately lead to disparities in healthcare, economics, and culture.

In honor of today – Juneteenth – and because this is an important issue we must address together, we will provide a copy to all SoN faculty and staff of Kendi’s book, either in electronic or hard copy format. Juneteenth is the oldest commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States and reading How to Be an Antiracist is a fitting way to continue our journey of transformational change around racism together.

Copies of the Health Sciences Common Book are already provided to our students and by providing copies to our faculty and staff, coupled with reading and discussing this book together, we have the opportunity to engage our entire school in this critical conversation. We are also working to create opportunities for school-wide discussions around How to Be an Antiracist.

As healthcare professionals, we understand that racism is a public health problem as well as a societal ill. The hope is that How to Be an Antiracist will help to further our conversations on race, public health and equity within the Health Sciences community and our profession. There is an urgent, compelling need for all of us to inform ourselves about and reflect on the history of race and racism in the US. It is incumbent on us to seek a path forward to reach the objectives of justice, equity, civility, and community.

While this should be a goal for everyone, it is a particularly important goal for those of who are – or who intend to be – healthcare professionals. We have both a professional and a moral obligation to take action that moves us toward the goal.

Accessing the book:

Request a hard copy or eBook from the Dean’s Office:

If you wish to seek out a copy on your own, keep in mind that the popularity of this book and restrictions due to the COVID pandemic have limited library circulation in paper copies and copyright restrictions limit eBook circulation. eBooks are available for sale, but licenses are currently maxed out in many library systems, but you still might want to contact your local library and see if a copy is available:

If you wish to purchase a copy, e-copies cost roughly $15 and hardcopies cost $25-$30. E-copies are readily available for purchase online and we encourage you to utilize Black-owned booksellers as much as possible. An additional resource for this is HERE.

About the book (From the National Book Review):

Kendi, founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University, has written a more personal book. Blending memoir, social analysis, and manifesto, it speaks out against the word “racist,” which has been rendered meaningless, freezing people into inaction. The more activist term “antiracist” – as opposed to “not racist” – is an essential addition to our national vocabulary, Kendi argues, calling on antiracists to confront racial inequality.

About Ibram X. Kendi:

Ibram X. Kendi is one of America’s foremost historians and leading antiracist voices. He is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and the Founding Director of The Antiracist Research & Policy Center at American University in Washington, DC. A professor of history and international relations, Kendi is a contributor at The Atlantic and CBS News.