Like many, we have been horrified, heartbroken, and outraged by the murders and racial violence against the Black community. Black deaths at the hands of the police highlight aggressive police tactics, racial profiling, and once again the need for us to address continued systemic anti-Black racism. History also serves to remind us why the phrase Black Lives Matter is both important and painfully relevant. Racism damages our community and breaks down the excellence that we seek to achieve in STEM research and education.
Every person who gives up a career in science due to racism represents an irretrievable loss to the advances they would have made and people they would have educated. We acknowledge that systemic anti-Black racism impacts our communities, professionally and personally. We recognize that these racist structures underpin our STEM institutions and that there are people in our community who live with racism every day. We stand in solidarity with Black and other minorities in our communities who experience alarming rates of institutionalized violence, and with those engaging in peaceful protests against systemic racism, oppression, and brutality. We condemn any form of racism, harassment, or discrimination, and we acknowledge the toll that societal and institutional racism has taken on our society, with the science community being no exception. Marine science and evolutionary biology have long been dominated by white perspectives, some of which have been white supremacist views rooted in eugenics, and we acknowledge that this lack of diversity is detrimental to innovation.
If we want to fight racism, everyone needs to see racism as their problem; not a problem for Black communities, but a problem in our society. Therefore, we must do better to increase the diversity of our membership and make sure all of our members feel welcome, included, and appreciated. As a research coordinated network, our mission is to include everyone in order to maximize advancement in our field, and for this reason we have always had an open network where anyone can become a member at no cost. In addition, we have coordinated readings and workshops that members can apply to attend at no cost with all travel reimbursed, and we have always considered diversity when evaluating applications for our workshops. Still, sending out announcements for these opportunities is not enough. We must do more to introduce Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) to this network by extending invitations to join the network and providing opportunities to build their CVs. As a community, we must confront racism when we see it, address microaggressions and unconscious bias when they occur, and strive to make our discipline more inclusive and welcoming.
Below is a list of the specific actions that the RCN will be implementing in the coming months to increase the number of members and participation from the BIPOC community:
- We will compile an email list of BIPOC organizations at our members’ campuses, of relevant departments at HBCUs, and of members of the BIPOC communities in our relevant fields. We will specifically target this list for membership and for upcoming initiatives. Please send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org (and feel free to suggest yourself!).
- We will draft a pamphlet about the RCN for circulation to send to the list, and in addition ask all members to send information about the RCN to BIPOC organizations on their campuses.
- We invite all members and non-members to contact us with ideas about how to combat racism and increase diversity within our network. Please send suggestions to email@example.com.
If you are a member interested in helping with the above initiatives, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Signed: Dr. Kathleen Lotterhos Dr. Joanna Kelley Dr. Daniel Bolnick Dr. Randall Hughes Dr. Molly Albecker