SVP Racial Equity Book Club (April)
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SVP Racial Equity Book Club (April)

SVP Racial Equity Book Club (April)

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Home of SVP Partner Jonathan Kauffman

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As SVP continues to deepen our understanding of the racial inequities in our communities we are working to provide opportunities for partners to engage in conversation, open dialogue and learning. Through the SVP Racial Equity Book Club we hope to foster dialogue, build relationships, and push ourselves out of our comfort zone to talk about these important issues.

SVP Racial Equity Book Club is a potluck so please bring a dish to share with your fellow partners, as well as your curiosity, open mind, insights, bravery and respect. Drinks and a comfortable setting for conversation will be provided.

While many inequities exist in our community, race is SVP’s starting (but not ending) focus area. We must be intentional and strategic about finding and getting in the way of patterns, behaviors and pathways in our society and institutions that foster and perpetuate racial inequities.

Book Choice: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned—Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

Like the protagonist of Gulliver’s Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey—hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre–Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

Please Note: The book club is only open to SVP Partners. Even if you haven’t had the chance to read the book we welcome everyone’s participation in this discussion.

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