Scientists Confront Academic Racism
Nearly 6,000 scientists signed a pledge to #ShutDownSTEM on June 10, the day of the Strike for Black Lives across higher education. (STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math.) They canceled lab meetings, halted research projects and actively confronted perceived racism in their institutions in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Particles for Justice physics collective members Brian Nord and Chanda Prescod-Weinstein helped develop the idea for the strike. They called on university science departments, national laboratories and all others engaged in scientific endeavors to stop business as usual for that one day.
The aim was educating themselves and their colleagues about the role of their own institutions in perpetuating white supremacy and creating concrete actions they could take to reduce anti-Black bias after the strike. According to the Pew Research Center, only 24 percent of college faculty members were nonwhite as of 2017, and a study published in the March edition of the journal BioScience found that Black, Latino, Native American and other underrepresented scholars account for only 9 percent of faculty members in STEM fields.