Today, June 10, 2020, scientists around the world are joining the #strike4BlackLives with #ShutdownSTEM. Both APS and AAAS have released statements condemning racism and have also announced their support for the strike.
This is a professional blog, so I maintain a general policy that I don’t write about politics except as it directly applies to physics or science (e.g. science funding or visa policy). Nevertheless, I cannot be silent about institutionalized racism and the ongoing epidemic of violence against black and brown people in the United States.
I had begun writing a longer post, but I realized that this conversation does not need another white voice. I urge anyone reading this to seek out black and other nonwhite voices and educate themselves about racism and how to become anti-racist. ShutdownSTEM has a page of resources that may be a good place to start.
I will leave you with this excellent statement from the APS Forum for Graduate Student Affairs:
Subject: APS FGSA Announcement on Police Violence
The recent protests that have arisen as a result of the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, George Floyd, Tony McDade, David McAtee, Justin Howell, Jamel Floyd, Sean Monterrosa and countless others are an expression of the pervasive racism and injustice that too often leads to the unlawful killing of unarmed Black and Brown people by police officers and ex-police officers. These murders continue to remind us of the decades of injustice and inequality inflicted on Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) by government policies and institutions intended to keep marginalized communities in states of disadvantage to uphold a white supremacist system.
Racism exists and is pervasive—the physics community is not exempt.
We recognize that racist police practices, ranging from profiling to violence, represent psychological and physical harm to all Black people including Black physicists. Furthermore, we recognize the impact that witnessing these events can have for Black physicists as well as other physicists from marginalized communities.
Given the context of these numerous recent high-profile police killings of Black people, we also consider the impact that these violent acts may have for our Black students and colleagues in all levels of our institutions.
The Forum on Graduate Student Affairs (FGSA) joins the Forum of Diversity and Inclusion in calling out not only for justice for those who were murdered unlawfully but for the dismantling of a system that allows, and indeed encourages, these kinds of injustices. It is everyone’s duty to dismantle systems of injustice and oppression, not just the duty of BIPOC.
We urge the entire physics community to create an equitable community and culture in which centuries of privilege are acknowledged, understood, and eliminated.
We urge the physics communities to actively stand against white supremacy, all forms of discrimination, and continued acts of violence against BIPOC.
We urge the physics communities to create a space where the distinctness of all communities are celebrated.
We also urge the physics communities to have compassion and understanding for those who are experiencing trauma from these recurring events.
We urge the physics communities to unequivocally state and believe that Black Lives Matter.
FGSA will connect with your departments to lead anti-racist reading groups and connect your department with experts in radical diversity, inclusion and equity training. If this is something you would like to call upon in your department, please email email@example.com. FGSA will continue to actively call out and address systemic racism and other forms of discrimination within the physics community.
The FGSA Executive Committee
[via email 2020-06-09]