Over 5000 scientists stop work in protest against systemic racism in STEM
Thousands of scientists pledged to halt research on Wednesday as part of a protest over systemic racism against black academics and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) professionals.
More than 5,000 academics from institutions across the globe signed an online pledge to strike posted by Particles for Justice.
As of Wednesday evening, Particles for Justice said it was no longer accepting pledges to strike, but is encouraging everyone to participate and acknowledge this is “only one of many days” needed for action and support.
Organizers of the #ShutDownSTEM protest wrote on the demonstration’s website that “this moment calls for profound and meaningful change,” and urged white and non-black people of color to educate themselves as well as create a “detailed plan of action to carry forward.”
“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,” the Shut Down STEM website reads. “Unless you engage directly with eliminating racism, you are perpetuating it.”
The Shut Down STEM website clarified that the protest is aimed at the broad research community that is not “directly participating” in ending the COVID-19 pandemic.
Using the #ShutDownSTEM hashtag on Twitter, black members of the research and academic community highlighted their work and shared ways the community could help issues of systemic racism.
Cite black scientists. Invite us to talk about our science. Don’t make us the face of your inclusion and diversity committees. Don’t ask us to build solutions. Learn to say our names correctly. Give us credit. Support our mental health. #ShutDownSTEM #StrikeforBlackLives
— Sandra Boitumelo Phoma (@Sandra_Phoma) June 10, 2020
Hi! I’m Cierra! I have B.S. and psych minor, getting ready to start my 2nd year as a PhD student, studying evolutionary plant ecology! We, Black scientists, exist in every field of STEM #BlackandSTEM #AmplifyBlackSTEM #ShutDownSTEM pic.twitter.com/VBwdzQGz9v
— Sully⁷ (@Sullylubbts13) June 10, 2020
I once asked my department head how long we have to wait for equity cause I’m Black everyday. I’m asking yall the same. What #BlackBirdersWeek , #ShutDownSTEM , & countless others are saying have been being said for a long time. Lets not have to do all this all over again, again.
— Earyn McGee, Lizard lassoer, MSc (@Afro_Herper) June 10, 2020
Others on Twitter used the hashtag to share how they and their institutions spent the day demonstrating, educating themselves and creating plans of action to move forward.
After some reflection, this is the plan of action I came up with: pic.twitter.com/FqdhHiH45T
— Debbie Gale Mitchell (@heydebigale) June 10, 2020
Standing with #StrikeforBlackLives and #ShutDownSTEM today – no lab meetings, no reviews, no manuscripts, no data analysis. Took a 8min 46s knee with the Woods Hole community, and our dept diversity and inclusion committee worked to do better within the systemic bias of academia. pic.twitter.com/358RqqEECb
— Andre Fenton (@aa_fenton) June 10, 2020
The Shut Down Stem protest comes after nationwide demonstrations over racial inequality and police brutality sparked by the death of George Floyd.
Floyd, an unarmed black man, died on Memorial Day after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes. Four officers involved in Floyd’s arrest were fired and charged.
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