Message to the Nicholas School Community from Stanback Dean Toddi Steelman
On Wednesday, June 10, the Nicholas School will participate in #ShutDownSTEM and #ShutDownAcademia as part of acknowledging why Black lives matter. This action is in recognition that as members of a university community and the work we do as scientists and knowledge creators, either directly or indirectly, is embedded in systems of racial injustice and inequality.
We are an institution of learning and education. As such, we have a disproportionate obligation to examine our thoughts and actions and how we influence others through our teaching and research missions so that we do not continue to perpetuate racially inequitable patterns. We need to be more reflective of our own internalized and interpersonal racism, as well as how we participate in and perpetuate institutional and structural racism. To make time for that reflection, we will not participate in business as usual tomorrow. Cancel your meetings. Cancel your teaching or use your class time to address these issues. Cancel your research plans.
For our black colleagues and people of color employed in the NSOE, take this day to prioritize your needs given all you have been shouldering.
For our white colleagues employed in the NSOE, take the time to take a hard look at what you are doing in your day to day work life, teaching, research, outreach and how it might change in the coming year. What could we all be doing differently?
I know that some of you are engaged in mission critical work related to COVID-19 response for NSOE or elsewhere and other essential duties, like making sure people get paid. In those cases, it may not be possible to take significant time for this reflection. That is OK. But find some time in some way to observe the intention of this day.
Importantly, we will have our planned caucuses. If this is where you feel comfortable engaging in discussion, please join them. For those of you not employed in the NSOE, I encourage you to join us in these caucuses tomorrow. We have reached out to all the Stanback employers and asked them to make time for your participation tomorrow.
There are many resources available for you and some of these have been circulated by others already, but I repeat them here for ease of access.
These are from the #ShutDownAcademica and #ShutDownSTEM websites:
- For our Black colleagues who want community and healing
- For beginners
- For those looking for a deeper dive
- Anti-Black racism in academia
- Anti-racism resources for white people
Here are some resources that are especially relevant for us in Nicholas, as a research and educational community:
- Book: 'A Terrible Thing To Waste' (NPR)
- Silence Is Never Neutral; Neither Is Science (Scientific American)
- How Racism Creeps Into Medicine
- 'They chose us because we were rural and poor': when environmental racism and climate change collide (The Guardian)
- The Disturbing Resilience of Scientific Racism (Smithsonian Magazine)
Our Office of Institutional Equity has resources as well.
And finally, a few things that have been helpful to me in the past few days:
- White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack (Peggy McIntosh)
- Who Gets to Be Afraid in America? (The Atlantic)
- This List Of Books, Films And Podcasts About Racism Is A Start, Not A Panacea (NPR)
- Code Switch (NPR)
- Environmentalism's Racist History (The New Yorker)
- Race and racism in the geosciences (Nature Geoscience)