#ShutdownSTEM and #Strike4BlackLives on Wednesday June 10

In response to the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, countless others like them, and the systematic anti-Black racism that makes such killings commonplace in America, I urge our community to take part on the #ShutDownSTEM strike this Wednesday. (More info at https://www.shutdownstem.com/).

Participating in this strike means:

  • No research
  • No meetings
  • No classes
  • No business as usual

Our regularly scheduled Pangeo weekly telecon on Wednesday will be repurposed as an open discussion on how we as a community can take action to help end racism in academia and in the world. These are not easy conversations to have, but they are necessary.

Some text from the strike website with more background:

In the wake of the most recent murders of Black people in the US, it is clear that white and other non-Black people have to step up and do the work to eradicate anti-Black racism. As members of the global academic and STEM communities, we have an enormous ethical obligation to stop doing “business as usual.” No matter where we physically live, we impact and are impacted by this moment in history.

Our responsibility starts with our role in society. In academia, our thoughts and words turn into new ways of knowing. Our research papers turn into media releases, books and legislation that reinforce anti-Black narratives. In STEM, we create technologies that affect every part of our society and are routinely weaponized against Black people.

Black academic and Black STEM professionals are hurting because they exist in and are attacked by institutional and systemic racism. Black people have been tirelessly working for change, alongside their Indigenous and People of Color allies. For Black academics and STEM professionals, #ShutDownAcademia and #ShutDownSTEM is a time to prioritize their needs— whether that is to rest, reflect, or to act— without incurring additional cumulative disadvantage.

Those of us who are not Black, particularly those of us who are white, play a key role in perpetuating systemic racism. Direct actions are needed to stop this injustice. Unless you engage directly with eliminating racism, you are perpetuating it. This moment calls for profound and meaningful change. #ShutDownAcademia and #ShutDownSTEM is the time for white and non-Black People of Color (NBPOC) to not only educate themselves, but to define a detailed plan of action to carry forward. Wednesday June 10, 2020 will mark the day that we transition into a lifelong commitment of actions to eradicate anti-Black racism in academia and STEM. We join with members of Particles for Justice in calling for a #Strike4BlackLives.


Prepping for tomorrow’s meeting, here’s the article I mentioned in today’s Pangeo coffee break which really was a wake-up call for me:


For me one of the most powerful things here was skewering the paradigm of whiteness-as-norm with diversity as add-on.

“One of us was present at an interview when a diversity themed question was asked and two of the White male members of the committee chose that moment to get up and refill their coffee cups, while a third opened his laptop to check e-mail”

That could have been been me checking e-mail. No more. It’s an uncomfortable but important read, containing actionable ideas for improvement.


A reminder of the telecon details:

Time: Wednesday, June 10, 4pm EDT
Zoom link: https://columbiauniversity.zoom.us/j/953527251

Thanks for posting this article @rsignell. I’ve long wondered about the seeming disconnect between implicit bias training (if it even happens) and its manifestation (or rather lack thereof) in the outcomes of academic search committees, and this piece does a great job of calling out the disconnect between lip service and action as it relates to racial diversity in the academic hiring process. The hiring committee has a responsibility pay attention to racism in the hiring process, including through self examination of its own systemic and institutional role in promoting racism.

I also found this article by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein to be a thoughtful critique of the implict bias framework.