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Diversity Office Facilitates 'Uncomfortable' Conversations


June 15, 2020

Medical student wears headphones and listens to a webinar on racial injustice on her laptop.

The virtual gatherings have touched on topics such as why peaceful protests have turned violent, the meaning of white privilege and more.


During the past week, virtual community gatherings have been held for students, faculty and staff across Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine campuses to offer a safe place to discuss the current climate of racial unrest felt nation-wide. Hosted by the Office of Diversity and Community Relations, the gatherings have given attendees the opportunity to learn and to engage in conversations with each other.

Aisha DeBerry, director of Diversity and Community Partnerships at PCOM Georgia, said, “With so much at stake, no one can afford to be silent. As a community, it is time to actively listen, stand up and speak out.”

Jay S. Feldstein, DO ’81, PCOM president and CEO, welcomed the attendees to the virtual gatherings by asking, “What do families do in a crisis? We come together and we talk. We have to count on each other to help heal our communities and move our country forward.“

At the Georgia gathering for faculty and staff, Valerie Cadet, PhD, associate professor of pathology, microbiology, immunology and forensic medicine and co-chair of the President’s Council for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, introduced a video featuring Emmanuel Acho entitled “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, Part 1.” Acho is a former NFL linebacker who is now an analyst for Fox Sports 1.

In the video, Acho touched on topics such as why peaceful protests have turned violent, the meaning of white privilege, and white on black crime vs. black on black crime. Virtual small groups were then formed to discuss these topics and to reflect on what these ideas mean for each one personally and as community members at PCOM.

“Reporters” shared their small group’s conversation themes with the larger group. Among the themes highlighted were the need to educate oneself to better understand racial justice, the need for listening, the power every person has to make a change, how important it is to advocate for black students who may not feel like they have a voice, and the need to be intentional about having meaningful conversations with one’s circle of friends.

DeBerry reminded attendees that “we are in the middle of a historic moment.” She said, “Diversity is not simply the inclusion of those who are different from you. It also embodies the idea that inclusion walks hand-in-hand with equity. It relies on the proposition that everyone is entitled to equal treatment.”

A comprehensive list of resources was provided to attendees including articles, toolkits, books, podcasts, movies, documentaries and social media accounts to help further understanding.

Learn more about PCOM’s Office of Diversity and Community Relations and its programs.

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  • About PCOM Georgia

    Established in 2005, PCOM Georgia is a private, not-for-profit, accredited institute of higher education dedicated to the healthcare professions. The Suwanee, Georgia, campus is affiliated with Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, a premier osteopathic medical school with a storied history. PCOM Georgia offers doctoral degrees in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, and physical therapy and graduate degrees in biomedical sciences, medical laboratory science, and physician assistant studies. Emphasizing "a whole person approach to care," PCOM Georgia focuses on educational excellence, interprofessional education and service to the wider community. The campus is also home to the Georgia Osteopathic Care Center, an osteopathic manipulative medicine clinic, which is open to the public by appointment. For more information, visit pcom.edu/georgia or call 678-225-7500.

    For more information, contact:
    Barbara Myers
    Senior Public Relations Manager
    Email: BarbaraMy@pcom.edu
    Office: 678-225-7532 | Cell: 770-309-0613

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