After the death of George Floyd and ongoing deaths through police brutality of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, … [I wish this was not a list nor wildly incomplete.] and ongoing lynchings in the US; The Black Lives Matters movement has gained momentum across the world, and many racial and justices have been pointed out, and a resounding call to rectify these injustices has been voiced. This has not passed by the geoscience community. Even if you were unaware of these trends before, it is impossible to ignore how this global wake-up call has lent a voice to marginalized people.
In a world where black geoscientists cannot do field work without the fear of being profiled by police, we have to take a deep look at why the geoscience community is mostly white, which is a statistical fact. Our community has not been particularly inclusive in the past, and when issues were raised in existing professional societies, these were largely ignored.
This petition by very reputable BIPOC geoscientists asks for scientific professional communities to do better, named aptly:
“Call for a Robust Anti-Racism Plan for The Geosciences“
This petition is worth reading in addition to of course signing it. It raises many points that may have gone unnoticed by geoscientists that did not have the keen eye for diversity, inclusion, and equity. It is also available as Google Doc with concrete actionable points to seriously consider.
However, we as individuals and as a community should also do our best to identify biases and blind spots we personally have cultivated throughout our educational and cultural upbringing. This is a fantastic time to listen to PIPOC geoscientists, writers, and content creators
A fantistic resource for this is Geo Reading for Equity. All these words can be confusing. All these concepts can be new, so a resource tailored for Earth scientists seems appropriate. There’s even a nifty library they prepared:
This is a first step, but start listening to your non-white colleagues. This is less of a surprise if you’ve been hearing the accounts of BIPOC geoscientists. I would like to share two books with you that explore race and the shame white people have around privilege and whiteness.
Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race. (Can we talk about the amazing cover?!)
And the harder to swallow but extremely methodical White Fragility.
In a discipline like geoscience, where geologists mock geophysicists and theoretical geophysicists look down on applied geophysicists, maybe we can actually achieve diversity of thought, once we address the fundamental pervasive division of this discipline that has manifested deeply in how we treat minorities.