The WCBD Blog
"The paradox of education is precisely this - that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated." - James Baldwin
Here at the WCBD headquarters- usually our living room or the student lounge at the hospital- we are often engaged in conversation about how we can effectively explain exactly what we're all about. Two of the most popular questions we get are "Do you have chapters at medical schools that I can join?" and "How can I get more involved?" The answers? "Not really." and "You tell us!" Clear as mud, we know.
The thing is, White Coats Black Doctors is not a fraternity, nor student organization. We are a nonprofit foundation driven by grassroots efforts of students and supporters across the country. It's your purchasing of merchandise to fund scholarships and community outreach, your volunteerism mentoring young people who want to pursue this journey, your endless advocacy for fairness and representation that carries the mission forward. Over 12 years ago, the Council on Graduate Medical Education in the 2005 "Minorities in Medicine" report, 'Lack of persistence in completing high school and failure to enroll in and graduate from college are the greatest barriers to URM entry into medicine.' So, you can get creative with how you "get more involved" simply by meeting the needs in your community, to help increase the number of black boys and girls becoming black college graduates who eventually become black physicians.
Kelley Butler is a perfect example.
Kelley is a second-year medical student at UC Irvine School of Medicine. We were excited to come across a video of Kelley teaching a group of 9th graders in her local community about sex ed and puberty, all while sporting some WCBD 'nalia. We were so happy to see Kelley take the WCBD mission to reach out to the next generation of black physicians, to mentor, inspire, and show how this movement is more than a fashion statement. We interviewed Kelley about her outreach efforts via email, and hope you'll learn a little something that will encourage you to take up the WCBD mission and make it your own.
WCBD: Hi, Kelley! So, a mutual friend of ours shared a video of you teaching sex ed wearing our original WCBD t-shirt. First things first- what is it that moved you to go teach sex ed to high school students?
KB: I was moved to engage with 9th graders because they are both powerful and vulnerable. They are old enough to make adult decisions (and, certainly do) but still naive in the sense that they don’t know much about topics related to sexual education. I just wanted to give them the knowledge so they can make healthy and informed decisions.
WCBD: Was this an idea you came up with on your own, or did you get other medical students at your school involved?
KB: A group of UC Irvine medical students were inspired to pursue sex ed teachings because teen pregnancy and STD rates in our surrounding communities are outstandingly high. Santa Ana, in particular, boasts teen pregnancy rates similar to those seen in some developing countries! They saw the need and I’m just glad to help address it.
WCBD: That's awesome. You saw a need and found a way to reach out and help your community. So, why did you decide to wear a WCBD tee while you were teaching?
KB: I decided to teach in the WCBD tee because these kids don’t often seen women of color in higher education and certainly not in the field of medicine. I taught to a majority Latinx audience but, lack of representation in medicine is pretty similar in both demographics. I made sure to introduce myself before starting my lesson and ensure the kids that they too can pursue medicine if it’s in their heart to do so.
WCBD: Thanks so much for the interview, Kelley. Anything else you want to share with our readers/followers?
KB: Just as a funny story: I was sitting with some of the teachers during the lunch hour just talking about what I was teaching and such. I mentioned that I wanted to also empower the kids by wearing my WCBD shirt. An older (probably mid-to-late 50s) white female teacher completely undermined my rhetoric saying “You know that shirt should actually say 'White Coats, Women Doctors' as if to say the feminism struggle is somehow greater than that of the underrepresented minority. Lady, I’m one of roughly 55 women in my class of 104 but the ONLY black woman! If only she knew…
Love to be an ambassador of this brand. Keep up the good fight!
What Our Supporters Are Saying
During the 2016 Howard University commencement address, President Barack Obama said to the graduates, "Be confident in your Blackness." WCBD is at the forefront of this movement in addition to promoting peak Black Excellence. I could not be more proud yet humbled by rocking this apparel and supporting the overall mission.