10 Things That the Scholarly Community Can Do to Stand in Solidarity

June 3, 2020 | 9:40 pm
Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash
Fernando Tormos-Aponte
Former Contributor

Acknowledge the history

Science has a deeply problematic relationship with race. The dimensions of this history are many, and most remain in operation to this day. Don’t expect your Black colleagues or friends to educate you on this history whenever you deem it necessary to learn about it. They have already written countless studies to help you understand it. Read them. Cite them. Striving for nuanced understanding of race should not entail giving white supremacists a voice or calling for “both sides” to be represented.

Address racism in our workplaces

Is your workplace predominantly white? Is your university and scientific association white-led? Are all of your collaborators white? Beyond well-crafted diversity statements and celebrations of diversity, we need to push leaders to take steps to address the under-representation of Black scientists in the scientific community.

Revise your work

It is not uncommon to read studies or syllabi that only cite and assign male or white authors. Consider how your work is informed by understandings of race.

Refuse to be complicit

Don’t take part in all-male, all-white academic panels. This undermines the legitimacy of your work and perpetuates the notion that people of color do not know about this topic.

Make space for Black leadership

Science advocacy organizations should make space for Black leadership. Black leadership and minority activism matters, particularly for addressing racist violence.

Make space for Black voices

Despite the lack of support for the academic sessions of scholars of color and their scholarship, when race relations dominate the news cycle, white colleagues seem to develop strong opinions about how to address race relations and minority activism. Scholars in the field of Race and Ethnicity in Politics have been doing this research despite the challenges of doing so.

Make space for Black innovation

Scientific innovation is less likely to be recognized as such when it comes from minority scientists.

Support autonomous Black spaces

Our Black colleagues are organizing autonomously. These spaces are important for their efforts to develop their perspective and action plans during these times. They will call on us to support their work, but until they do, we must respect the spaces that they’ve created for themselves.

Invest in Black leadership

Investing in Black leadership does not always mean that you must step down from your leadership positions. White leaders can make space for Black leadership by allocating resources to the development of Black leadership.

Expect dissent

Minorities are not monolithic groups. It may come as a surprise to some, but minority groups do have disagreements on how to best address their oppression. This should not be taken as a sign of weakness or the absence of a clear agenda. Deliberating over distinct perspectives throughout the process of deciding on actions is what democracy looks like. The ability to engage in these deliberations makes efforts to end oppression stronger. Ultimately, agendas for change are weak if they do not rest on a solid foundation of inclusive deliberation.