“Belonging While Black at Duke” Book Club Launched

April 1, 2021

A Duke engineer joins a Duke copyright expert to lead colleagues in exploring issues of equity and inclusion through focused readings

Fred Boadu and Arnetta Girardeau

Fred Boadu and Arnetta Girardeau

Duke civil and environmental engineering faculty member Fred Boadu and Duke Libraries’ Arnetta Girardeau, an attorney who specializes in copyright issues, are pleased with the Duke community’s interest in their newly launched Belonging While Black at Duke Book Club.

The book club, which has both workshop and discussion components, was formed with support from a 2021-2022 Faculty Advancement Seed Grant and is designed to foster discussions of inclusion and professional advancement. While the discussion is open to all members of the Duke community, said Girardeau, it centers on the experiences of Black faculty and staff.

Boadu and Girardeau planned for 30 spots to be available at the club’s first meeting, which is scheduled for April 28th. Already, 52 people have signed up to participate.

“We are working on the best way to expand the project to accommodate the interest; it’s great,” said Girardeau. “We can open the discussions fairly easily, but we did meet the limit on the workshop. Hopefully this demonstrates enough interest to lead to a ‘Phase 2.’” At that point, said Girardeau, she and Boadu will sound another call for participation. 

The Belonging While Black at Duke Book Club’s April reading selection is I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown, and the discussion will focus on resilience. Future topics will include intersectionality, professional advancement, Black men in society and thriving at work.

Boadu stressed that the purpose of the book club goes deeper than just learning about the issues; it’s about using that knowledge to create institutional changes that truly address inequity. “Events and talks themselves do not solve problems,” said Boadu. “Using the outcomes of those events to inform structured change—that’s what really matters.”