Watch: Striving to Become an Anti-Racist Department – Strategies for Sustained Engagement and Transformation

Anti-Racist Work Overview

On June 18, 2020 Interim-Chair, Dr. William Schwab, charged the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee to

  • Serve as the lead group in the department for guiding anti-racism and social justice efforts
  • Make recommendations regarding programming within the department that will advance the understanding of personal and structural racism as well as offer insights into how to change practices and policies

This work will be done in partnership with the DFMCH Executive Team and with the broad input from “within our department, and our community, especially our patients, to conceptualize and implement a plan.”

He prefaces “…that addressing racism and social justice is essential to each of our department’s missions so this is truly a part of our ‘work,’ not an add-on volunteer activity. We can’t provide clinical care, or teach learners, or do research, or address community health without having an operational awareness of how structural racism is present and a framework for confronting it.”

In December 2014 members from across our statewide department came together to brainstorm ideas to assure ongoing efforts in diversity, equity, and inclusion work by our department as a culmination of the 2020 Initiative. Creation of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee was one of its recommendations. The charter for the committee’s formation was approved by the Executive Team on March 25, 2015 and our first meeting launched in August 2015. We have been a productive and cohesive group and have completed work in all areas of our strategic TRUST framework. Despite broad representation of our membership, widespread engagement of programmatic opportunities and operationalization of recommendations has been limited to date.

As our department joins the awakening of the American people to the grave injustices experienced by African Americans sparked by the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, we are honored and eager to accept this charge and appreciate the sincere intent by the DFMCH leadership to provide not only support in words but in deeds with a commitment to departmental leadership participation, coordination, and fiscal support.

We know our work ahead remains long and winding but are heartened by other professional organizations, health care systems, and academic medical institutions who have declared racism a public health crisis along with the Wisconsin Public Health Association including the American Academy of Family Physicians, UW Health, and UW School of Medicine and Public Health. We hope to help lead our department in becoming a leader in this arena.


We recognize the need to provide recommendations that will promote both

  • Inward-facing anti-racism work that will encourage shared language, understanding and appreciation and cultural humility; empower Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) to rise to leadership positions; empower white people to become anti-racist mentors, allies and leaders; and, ultimately, grow a culture of shared values, mission and vision
  • Outward-facing systematic and sustained anti-racism and health equity work in
    • recruitment practices and policies for departmental positions, including in our UW Health family medicine clinics
    • retention practices and policies for departmental positions, including in our UW Health family medicine clinics
    • selection practices and policies regarding awards, promotions, leadership assignments
    • research community-engagement practices
    • clinical practices and quality improvement interventions in alignment with UW Health DEI practices and goals
    • educational curriculum and teaching practices in alignment with SMPH practices and goals
    • accountability DEI dashboard with established metrics and goals approved and reviewed by a community advisory board

Communication, dissemination and engagement will be critical, as will regular assessment and evaluation of the work. Our goal is to be transparent, inclusive, and compassionate in our efforts. We will provide guidance and coordination but would like the work to be decentralized and owned by all members of our department. We hope to learn and grow together.

Our committee has formed the following working groups (PDF) to implement our recommendations. These groups will allow us to apply an anti-racist lens to all areas within our department and carry out initiatives in a coordinated and decentralized manner. Groups are organized based on our DEI strategic framework of TRUST:

Unlearning and Learning
Sustaining and Retaining
Training and Transformation

Working group timelines, project prioritization, team members, and descriptions are subject to change. If you are interested in supporting the DEI Committee’s anti-racist initiatives, please visit out intranet and complete the volunteer form. Based on working groups’ needs and individuals’ skillsets and interests, you may be invited to participate in one of our TRUST working groups.

For DFMCH employees: please view our early stage DEI metrics by logging into DFMCH Intranet and following this link: DEI Dashboard Metrics Sample.pdf

Anti-Racism Resources: Education, Action, and Well-being

DFMCH Office of Community Health has compiled an anti-racism resource page as part of our Anti-Racism Initiative. Resources include well-being resources for BIPOC, educational resources, information about race and racism in medicine, and a list of Madison, WI area BIPOC-led organizations and businesses.

nINA Collective Train-the-Trainer Workshops: Anti-racist facilitation skill-building

The DFMCH Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, in collaboration with the nINA Collective, offered a unique professional development opportunity for staff and faculty to learn facilitation skills to expand our Department’s capacity to engage in courageous conversations in anti-oppression dialogue and learning. 34 DFMCH staff, faculty, residents, and fellows participated in a two part workshop series facilitated by the nINA Collective in June, 2021. Individuals learned skills and practiced facilitating conversation around issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and anti-oppression. Following these workshops, some participants will be asked to help facilitate future dialogues, including racial affinity caucusing sessions and DEI microlearning modules.

FPM Meeting DEI Video – February 2021

  • Introduction to nINA collective partnership with DFMCH on becoming an anti-racist department: 0:00-9:30 – Presented by Jordan Bingham, Member-Director of the nINA Collective
  • Presentation of 2021 DFMCH DEI Survey Results: 10:00-24:30 – Presented by Jennifer Edgoose, DFMCH Office of Community Health and DEI Committee Chair
  • Q&A: 24:30-end

Toward Health Equity: Beyond Disparities and Race – Jennifer Edgoose, MD, MPH – Sept 3, 2020

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