Discomfort seems to be the theme for 2020, but for that I am thankful. If I have learned anything the past few months, it is that discomfort is the key to change.
I have spent time reflecting and educating myself on the past week's events, the impact of white privilege on my daily life, and how I can actively promote anti-racism and support the Black community on and offline from here on out.
If you find yourself shying away from difficult conversations concerning the marginalization of Black/Indigenous/Latinx/Asian and other communities, the social injustices they face, and other important political issues, I encourage you to reflect on why.
You may realize that you've been silent in an effort to keep the peace, didn't feel that their issues were your battle to fight, didn't want to risk saying the wrong thing, or felt complacent in your beliefs.
But the truth is... your silence does more harm than you think. Your silence is an act of support for white supremacy and will always perpetuate racial violence and discrimination.
Many of us can agree that racism has no place in our modern world, but if we hope to advance racial justice we must also agree to unite and actively reject the white supremacist beliefs that continue to threaten and marginalize others based on their ethnic origin and skin tone.
Please consider how your silence may be perpetuating racist behavior. Actively educate yourself on the ways you can fight racism and choose to behave in a way that promotes and defends human rights, every day.
If you need help educating yourself on racial injustice, white privilege, and how to take a daily stand against racism - here are a few tips to get you started:
- Publicly denounce racism. Centuries of racism won't undo itself. Talk about it with your family and friends. In the words of the South African activist Desmond Tutu, "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."
- Provide tangible help by donating to anti-racist organizations and medical/bail/legal aid funds for those that have been hurt or arrested in the current protests. Encourage others to do so too.
- Seek out, listen to, and regularly amplify the voices of Black/Indigenous/Latinx/Asian people, activists, and anti-racist organizations. Subscribe to their content and be responsive to their calls for action.
- Save your money for businesses committed to diversity and inclusion. Shop at Black/Indigenous/Latinx/Asian -owned small businesses when possible. Consider leaving them a nice review! This small act can do wonders for their brand.
- Reflect on your current relationships. Is anyone you know racist? If so, call them out for it! Let them know that you will no longer tolerate racism in your life. Distance yourself from those that are not receptive to change.
- Question your own behavior. Are you guilty of covert racism? If so, recognize it and make the choice to do better. It's never too late to change.
- Respect the time and energy of others. Take charge of your education, and never ask or expect anyone to go out of their way to teach you about racism. It is YOUR personal responsibility to stay informed of important social matters.
- For ways to join the fight for Black freedom, liberation, and justice: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/
From here on out I will be taking the following personal and professional actions against racism:
Personally, I will...
- openly call out discrimination and ignorance in real-time, every time.
- learn to better recognize covert racist behaviors.
- distance myself from family and friends that choose to discriminate against any race.
- regularly educate myself on social issues.
- carefully consider where I donate and shop.
In my research/teaching I will...
- design my experiments to include cell lines of diverse ethnic origin.
- educate myself on the history of scientific racism.
- familiarize my students with the work of non-white scientists.
- consider the values of companies that I source supplies from and of scientists I collaborate with.
Cell Kulture Co. will...
- donate 10% of monthly profits to black-owned organizations for the remainder of 2020 (with preference to those in urgent need of funding).
- update our product descriptions to display the name and website of organizations we are donating to.
- not associate with any brand or person that engages in overt or covert racism.
- celebrate the contributions and achievements of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian scientists in our science communication.
Featured image: Maria Oswalt