The unacceptable deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others are being recognized by many in the STEM community with a strike on Wednesday. The organizers write: "Importantly, we are not calling for more diversity and inclusion talks and seminars. We are not asking people to sit through another training about implicit bias. We are calling for every member of the community to commit to taking actions that will change the material circumstances of how Black lives are lived -- to work toward ending the white supremacy that not only snuffs out Black physicist dreams but destroys whole Black lives. In calling for a strike, we call on people who are not Black to spend a day undertaking discussion and action that furthers this work, while providing Black scientists with a day of rest. Every single institution around the world can and should get involved in this work, and the strike marks an opportunity to recommit to the humanist values which should underpin academic work, including the belief that Black Lives Matter.”
What makes this action distinct from many other peaceful protests for racial justice around our nation is its focus on STEM within academia, and in particular Black scientists in physics and astronomy.
We're writing to express our support to those who wish to strike on Wednesday, and plan to observe the strike by curtailing departmental academic, research and administrative activity on that day. We ask all graduate and postdoctoral advisors to respect their advisee’s wish to do so as well.
If you have not already, we encourage you to visit the web sites to educate yourself about the strike and to think about the many suggested actions to address systemic anti-Black racism and racial bias and inequities in our discipline and in academia.
Society is facing an inflection point, fueling new awareness. We recognize the need for sustained actions that lead to real change. These may build on on-going efforts or may involve new initiatives and resources. They must also be derived from the exchange of ideas within our academic community of faculty, students and staff.
We commit to not only taking this moment to reflect and learn but also to using the momentum of the present to make concrete plans for the future.