Brunonians taking action against racism

Brown alumni share stories of how they're addressing racial injustice in their lives.

Brown alumni always inspire. In the fight against racial injustice, we've seen many embody the Brown mantra of pursuing lives of "usefulness and reputation" through their work and good deeds. From those who've answered the call in times of need to those who've made it their life's work, here are just a few stories of Brunonians who shared with us how they're taking action against racism and racial injustice.

Geolani Dy '08 MD'12Geolani Dy ’08 MD’12 (PLME)

Portland, Oregon
A.B. ’08, International Relations ("Politics, Culture and Identity")
Program in Liberal Medical Education
M.D. ’12

As an academic urologist who specializes in gender-affirming surgery, I am constantly faced with the societal biases and inequities that impact my patients and the trans/gender-diverse community. I am also well aware of the critical lack of racial and ethnic diversity among the urologic workforce and how this impacts our ability to care for a diverse patient population. 

Two colleagues and I co-founded a new initiative, Urologists for Equity, that aims to harness the creativity and efforts of urologists around the country. From medical students to residents and leaders of urologic organizations to community urologists, we're working together to address structural racism in our field — a deeply rooted problem that has not historically been discussed openly. This grassroots effort will take shape through advocacy (establish specific initiatives and actions that all urologists can pursue), scholarship (performing/facilitating research that addresses these inequities), sponsorship (advancing careers of those who are underrepresented in medicine), and engagement (of urologists from across the country and world).

A. Lorraine Robinson AM’96A. Lorraine Robinson AM’96

Fort Washington, Maryland
A.M. ’96, Theatre

I am directing a virtual production of the play "Baltimore" by Kirsten Greenidge—which tackles racism on college campuses—with students at my undergraduate alma mater, St. Mary's College of Maryland. My work at Brown as a master's student in the graduate theatre studies department (and working at Rites and Reason Theatre) has infused the work I've taken back as a guest artist and scholar at St. Mary's College. My thesis at Brown was directing a production of Suzan-Lori Parks "The America Play" which also examines race and its history and societal reverberations.

For "Baltimore" I wanted the experience of the play to not only educate, but to engage and create dialogue, critical discourse, and to strengthen the community while giving voice to and centering our student artists. This is what theatre does, especially in a liberal arts learning setting, and is what I hope we achieved in this process...together.

Jean E. Balestrery ’91, Ph.D., MA, MSW, LICSW

Jean E. Balestrery ’91Minneapolis, Minnesota
A.B. ’91, Modern Culture & Media

I'm a scholar-practitioner endeavoring to advance health equity and close the health gap. #HealthEquity.

Through an interdisciplinary lens in social work and anthropology, I'm leveraging medical and cultural anthropology to expand the language and perspective among clinicians in healthcare. My current projects bridge social and political movements at the nexus of mutual imbrications. #Progress. 

Recently, I wrote an autoethnographic piece entitled "Exposing Health Inequities: Surreal Snapshots from the Grand Canyon to Global COVID-19 Pandemic" which maps the impact of trauma at both individual and collective levels while illuminating human agency throughout the recovery process. This piece highlights our current context as an opportunity for transformation, one that involves #Rethinking #Reimagining and #Restructuring. This opportunity entails #OvercomingTheseDivisionsThatKeepUsApart and #ItTakesAllOfUs.

Jeff Hines ’83 MD’86Jeff Hines ’83 MD’86

Atlanta, Georgia
Sc.B. ’83, Biology
M.D. ’86

When I was a student, Levi C. Adams was the Vice President of External Affairs for Biology and Medicine at Brown, and he quickly became a mentor to me—both spiritually and professionally. Next to my parents, Levi was someone who really shaped my professional career. A few years ago, I was able to be part of the genesis of the Levi C. Adams Medical Scholarship, which supports the next generation of African American physicians working to earn M.D.s at Brown's Warren Alpert Medical School. These types of scholarships are not only a testament to the impact that Levi has had, but also a testimony of who we are as an institution and how Brown embraces diversity in everything it does.

Jen Roth-Gordon ’94Jen Roth-Gordon ’94

Tucson, Arizona
A.B. ’94, Anthropological Linguistics

In addition to my undergraduate and graduate teaching on whiteness and white supremacy, I am now teaching a course called "Whiteness and Racial Violence in America" for anyone wanting to learn more about structural racism and anti-Blackness. Regardless of whether you have just started to learn more about racial inequality and are hoping to better understand the powerful protests surrounding George Floyd’s brutal murder, or whether you have been living these issues your whole life, this course will offer deeper insight on how race and whiteness structure our world and our daily lives and how you can use this insight in the fight for racial justice.

Michael F. Bacon ’88Michael F. Bacon ’88

New York, New York
A.B. ’88, Computer Science

As co-chair of the Americas Diversity & Inclusion Council for Swiss Re (one of the largest reinsurers in the world), I helped launch Mosaic — a People of Color Employee Resource Group for our more than 3,000 colleagues in the Americas in 2018. Following the death of George Floyd, I worked with my colleagues on new programming and a Juneteenth holiday. I also collaborated with my international colleagues to expand Mosaic to Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and South Africa, which together comprise more than 80% of our global workforce of more than 14,000.

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