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Donor to help School of Medicine students understand and address systemic racism

Posted July 1, 2020 | By Alyssa Yancey (alyssa.yancey@uscmed.sc.edu)

A surprising gift and commitment from bestselling author and Giraffe University founder Chris Jarvis comes at an important time. In support of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, Jarvis has ensured all first-and second-year medical students receive a copy of “Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century” by Dorothy Roberts.

Additionally, Jarvis has committed to donating proceeds from the sale of his latest book “Giraffe Money: See Better Paths to Elevated Wealth,” which was released on June 25 and hit the bestseller list in Entrepreneurship, Finance, Insurance and Wealth Management in its first week. Jarvis has agreed to donate his author royalty ($5 per paperback, $2 per kindle) to the School of Medicine. The funds will be used to support scholarships for underrepresented minorities, which is a top priority of the medical school.

“Fatal Invention” is described as “a groundbreaking book [that] examines how the myth of race as a biological concept—revived by purportedly cutting-edge science, race-specific drugs, genetic testing, and DNA databases—continues to undermine a just society and promote inequality in a supposedly ‘post-racial’ era.” It was named one of the ten best black nonfiction books 2011 by AFRO.com.

“All within our School of Medicine family and our community have been deeply affected by recent events that highlight ongoing racism within our society,” says Dean Les Hall, M.D.. “As a school of medicine, we must acknowledge these issues serve as barriers to achieving a just society, and exercise our responsibility to be part of the solution.”

School of Medicine leadership recently announced a number of action items that are being implemented to help reshape the discussion about systemic racism and bias within the school. One item includes adding materials related to racial bias, cultural competency, equity, and inclusion to new student orientation.

“Students are not only looking for a statement, they are looking to see if we will back up what we say with action," says Eric Williams, M.D., assistant dean for student affairs at the medical school. Incorporating the book into freshman orientation helps to show that we take diversity issues seriously and see them as a necessary part of medical student education."

Jarvis, a member of the School of Medicine Dean’s Executive Advisory Board, volunteered to cover the cost of the books and to support a larger effort of making medical education more possible for students of color because he believes passionately in creating a more equitable and healthy society.

“Improving health goes far beyond the physical body. We must learn to understand and appreciate each other so we can create a healthier environment for every one of us. Gifting the book was one very small and immediate step I can take today. Supporting the effort to grow the scholarship pipeline for underrepresented students is my way of investing in a more diverse health care workforce that will generate improved outcomes for the communities most impacted by health issues. I hope these steps I’ve taken will encourage others to take one themselves,” says Jarvis.

Jarvis is the Founder of Giraffe University and the author of 16 books, including the new bestseller “Giraffe Money: See Better Paths to Elevated Wealth,” which was released earlier this week.


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