SPARK Committee Looking for New Members to Advance Racial Equity

An illustration of hands depicting many races raised in solidarity
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(September 24, 2021) — If you’re interested in working together with colleagues to increase understanding of pervasive racial inequities and advance racial equity in the GUMC community, consider joining the Spaces and Places for Advocacy & Racial-Justice Knowledge (SPARK) committee. Led by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the SPARK Committee is seeking new members.

The SPARK Committee launched in June 2020 to raise awareness of racial inequity in our country, increase understanding of our multicultural environment and cultivate positive social change. The committee pursues that goal by organizing events including open spaces or forums where participants can share, listen and heal, theme-based dialogue sessions for conversation and reflection, and racial justice learn-ins to impart the skills and knowledge to promote personal and professional development.

Since its inception, SPARK committee members have organized 20 open spaces, including forums dedicated to discussing the 2020 election, the January 6 insurrection and anti-Asian violence. Committee members also planned guided meditations focused on healing and gratitude, and led in-depth learn-ins on different topics related to mentoring and intersectionality. 

A series of events focused on cultural humility organized by medical students prompted the most engagement from the GUMC community, said Isela Melendez-Carpio, M.Ed., director of diversity, equity and inclusion, with nearly 80 participants attending each event in the three-part series.

The SPARK Anti-Racism Book Club is also organized by Susan Cheng, EdLD, MPP, senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion at the School of Medicine, and Keisha G. Bell, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine. With SPARK committee members, Cheng and Bell have led discussions focused on “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo, “Medical Apartheid” by Harriet Washington and “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo. This fall, book club participants will read and discuss “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson in small affinity groups.

SPARK committee members include students, faculty and staff from the School of Medicine, NHS and BGE, including the Special Master’s Program. “All are welcome to join SPARK, whether it be leading a learn-in or facilitating an open space,” said Melendez-Carpio. “Engaging in racial justice work is a lifelong journey, which is why I am excited to connect with more colleagues and students across Georgetown.” 

To join the SPARK Committee, complete the interest form by September 28 at 5:00 p.m.