School of Natural Sciences & Mathematics Anti-Racism Statement
We, faculty and staff of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, mourn the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Maurice Gordon, Rayshard Brooks and so many more, and stand in solidarity with the Black community as it continues to be devastated by police violence and other forms of state-sanctioned white supremacist oppression.
We recognize that we are part of this society and that we must actively commit to practicing anti-racism in our pedagogy, service, and professional work. We recognize the pain of our Black, Brown, Indigenous and People of Color (BBIPOC) faculty, staff and students, and we are well aware that the climate at the University as a whole, and NAMS in particular, is not welcoming to them; we also realize that Black staff members are more vulnerable to institutional inequities than tenured faculty members. Thus, we call on those among us with a degree of job security and/or institutional privilege to take a lead in addressing the failure of NAMS to create an adequately inclusive and equitable space.
In our pedagogy, we must reckon with failures of science as a whole: to this day the way we teach and practice science is excessively eurocentric, exploitative of knowledge generated by Black and Indigenous people, and rarely acknowledges its debt to pre-Renaissance Muslim scholarship. These failures not only limited our horizons but contributed to the ongoing oppression of BBIPOC communities. Medicine, that by its very nature relies on knowledge generated by biology, chemistry, physics, and statistics, among others, perfectly illustrates how often sciences have been complicit in perpetuating violence of oppressive state. From J Marion Sims' violent experimentation on enslaved women to the Tuskegee syphilis study to stolen cells of Henrietta Lacks, white scientists and doctors systematically exploited Black bodies. This is the legacy we must acknowledge if we are to move forward.
We owe it to our students and to our community to acknowledge the past and mitigate continuing damage by decentering eurocentric modes of thinking and knowing, by acknowledging contributions of non-European scientists, and by making an effort to learn about Black and Muslim scientists and to include their work in our pedagogy and recognized canon.
We also must recognize and ameliorate our discriminatory hiring and mentoring practices. We call on administration to issue guidelines on the minimum numbers of BBIPOC hires on faculty and staff lines; we also demand adequate mentoring support for BBIPOC faculty in order to improve their retention and tenure rates.
We also call on administration to recognize results of the climate survey and task force in hate speech and develop a set of specific policies designed to address the lack of BBIPOC faculty in NAMS and to hold faculty and staff accountable for the climate in our classrooms and offices. We extend this commitment to include NAMS’ participation in BBIPOC student recruitment and retention in NAMS STEM programs and practices.
NAMS Faculty and Staff Assembly