Campus News

Essay about Trump sparks book club discussion

Karole Collier (left), Class of '22, spoke about her personal experiences with racism, racism in the city of Buffalo, her family history, and about something that happened on campus that was racist and affected her deeply.

Karole Collier (left), Class of '22, spoke to those attending Thursday's Breaking Barriers with Books session about her personal experiences with racism, racism in the city of Buffalo and her family history, and about something that happened on campus that was racist and affected her deeply. Photo: Nancy J. Parisi

By ELLEN GOLDBAUM

Published October 19, 2018

“The First White President,” an essay about Donald Trump, was the topic for some intense discussion among UB medical students and community members yesterday evening at the latest session of Breaking Barriers with Books, a book club based in Buffalo’s Fruit Belt.

The meeting at First Centennial Baptist Church, 273 High St., was the fourth session of the book club, an offshoot of the Jacobs School’s Center for Medical Humanities. It came about when faculty and students from the Jacobs School started working with East Side pastors and congregations to discuss health care disparities.

“We came to see that the perspectives of the faculty and students were often so removed from those of the community members that many of us wanted to find out why and to explore these issues in a more deliberate and sensitive way,” says Linda Pessar, director of the Center for Medical Humanities. “Our discussions start out focused on the reading, but then turn into discussions of race issues in Buffalo and in the U.S.”

The book club sessions start with members sharing a potluck dinner before moving on to discussion of the essay or book chapter, chosen for the racial themes it explores. Thursday’s assignment was “The First White President: The foundation of Donald Trump’s presidency is the negation of Barack Obama’s legacy” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, which appeared in The Atlantic.

Previous readings have included a chapter from W.E.B. Dubois’ “The Souls of Black Folk” and “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man” by Henry Louis Gates Jr., about the O.J. Simpson trial.