With contributions from Chris Gentry, Tessa Hill, Cora Johnston, Olivia Lopez, Isabel Morris, and Erika Marin-Spiotta
Continued anti-Black police violence in the U.S., racial and ethnic inequities in COVID-19 related illnesses and deaths, and the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic have lent renewed urgency to conversations and action to address systemic racism in the U.S. Racism is engrained in every aspect of our current society, including people's ability to access quality and affordable education, health care, housing, food, clean air and water, employment, and competitive salaries. Racism is also experienced in personal interactions through lack of trust, (micro)aggressions, active hostility and discrimination. The widespread lack of recognition of the violent history of colonization, genocide, disenfranchisement, dispossession, imperialism and white supremacy in the U.S. (and many other countries) contributes to failure to acknowledge their legacies in all aspects of today's society. The historical, societal and interpersonal context of racism contributes to racial inequities in academia and in science. Black scientists, for example, report having the police called on them by coworkers at their workplace, police interrogation at field sites, being followed by police on campus, being denied tenure, and being overlooked for promotion.
There is a wealth of scholarship on the history of the construction of race, racism, and racial identity which cannot be summarized on one page. Instead, we attempt to introduce some important concepts and point the reader to additional resources.
Scholars frame racism as a systemic feature of society, not an aberration of individual prejudice, but instead the product of intentional policies and practices to establish and perpetuate racial inequities.
- Bonilla-Silva, E. (2015) 'More than Prejudice: Restatement, Reflections, and New Directions in Critical Race Theory', Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, 1(1), pp. 73–87.
- Crenshaw, K. W. (2011) 'Twenty Years of Critical Race Theory: Looking back to Move Forward', Connecticut Law Review, 43(5), pp. 1253–1354.
- Delgado, R. and Stefancic, J. (2001) Critical Race Theory: An Introduction. New York: New York University Press Downloadable here
- Ray, V. (2019) A Theory of Racialized Organizations. American Sociological Review 84: 26-53.
Learn about racism in the U.S.
- Resources from Racial Equity Tools
- Talking about Race by National Museum of African American History & Culture, includes information about Historical Foundations of Race, Race and Racial Identity, Social Identities and Systems of Oppression and Whiteness
- The 1619 Project interactive New York Times Magazine. Book by Nikole Hannah-Jones
- Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X Kendi
- The long history of racism against Asian Americans in the U.S.
- Special Issue (2019) in Health Sciences Research on Experiences of Discrimination in America: Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Sexuality
- Discrimination in America: Experiences and Views, report of a survey by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and National Public Radio
Learn about history of racism in academia
The following are a good introduction to the colonial and violent histories of the foundation of U.S. academic institutions of higher education.
- Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities by Craig Steven Wilder.
- Land-grab universities Expropriated Indigenous land is the foundation of the land-grant university system by Robert Lee and Tristan Ahtone
- Textbook Racism: How scholars maintained white supremacy by Donald Yacovone
- Racial inequality in academia: Systemic origins, modern challenges, and policy recommendations by Cydney H. Dupree and C. Malik Boykin
Racism in STEMM
- Science still bears the fingerprints of colonialism by Rohan Deb Roy
- Reckoning with histories of medical racism and violence in the USA by Ayah Nuriddin, Graham Mooney and Alexandre I. White
- On reporting scientific and racial history by Rae Wynn-Grant
- Can we untangle ecology from its baked-in colonial biases? by Ellie Shechet
- Decolonising Science Reading List by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein
- David Takacs. How does your positionality bias affect your epistemology?
Ali et al. (2021) in their article An actionable anti-racism plan for geoscience organizations propose that for organizations to implement anti-racist and equitable practices, leadership and members need to ask themselves the following questions:
Who is in the organization?
Who benefits from the status quo?
Who holds power?
Who feels safe?
Who is left out and who is powerless?
Who feels unsafe?
Why do these differences exist?
- Saying 'I don't see color' denies the racial identity of students by Larry Ferlazzo
- Moving beyond the business case for diversity by Rebecca Haacker, Melissa Burt and Marissa Vara
- Cognitive reserve and racial privilege in STEM by Mélise Edwards
- This Is What I Want To Tell My White Professors When They Ask, 'How Are You Today? by LaShyra "Lash" Nolen
- Is your university racist? by Bedelia Nicola Richards
- Racism in academia – an interview with Dr. Izzy Jayasinghe by Brooke Morriswood
Resources for anti-racist practices in STEM
- Angela Y. Davis
10 Simple rules to facilitate antiracist dialogue in science workplaces
- Lead informed discussions about antiracism in your lab regularly
- Address racism in your lab and field safety guidelines
- Publish papers and write grants with BIPOC colleagues
- Evaluate your lab's mentoring practices
- Amplify voices of BIPOC scientists in your field
- Support BIPOC in their efforts to organize
- Intentionally recruit BIPOC students and staff
- Adopt a dynamic research agenda
- Advocate for racially diverse leadership in science
- Hold the powerful accountable and don't expect gratitude
- from Chaudhary and Berhe. Ten simple rules for building an antiracist lab
- Ten simple rules for building an antiracist lab by Bala Chaudhary and Asmeret Asefaw Berhe.
- An actionable anti-racism plan for geoscience organizations by Hendratta Ali et al.
- Counteracting systemic bias in the lab, field and classroom by Emily H.G. Cooperdock et al. Read more about this work here: Seven ways PIs can counteract systemic bias right now
- Ten steps to protect BIPOC scholars in the field by Joshua Anadu, Hendratta Ali and Christopher Jackson
- Ecology and evolutionary biology must elevate BIPOC scholars by Melanie Duc Bo Massey et al.
- Decoloniality and anti-oppressive practices for a more ethical ecology by Christopher H. Trisos, Jess Auerbach and Madhusudan Katti
- Strategies and support for Black, Indigenous, and people of colour in ecology and evolutionary biology by Michelle Tseng et al.
- Let's talk about race: changing the conversations around race in academia by Jasmine M. Miller-Kleinhenz et al.
- Recommendations for inclusive diversity to increase persistence of PEERS (persons excluded because of their ethnicity or race) in Race Matters by David Asai
- Tips for avoiding racial bias in reference writing by Asmeret Asefaw Berhe and Sora Kim
- Responses to 10 Common Criticisms of Anti-Racism Action in STEM by Maya Gosztyla et al.
Six essential constructs for an anti-racist framework: identity, values, access, inclusion, equity, and justice (from Ali et al. 2020 An actionable anti-racism plan for geoscience organizations). Acknowledge the presence of racism and the role of intersectionality in shaping experiences of discrimination and exclusion. Be transparent about communicating the organization's values and hold it accountable. Ensure access by removing barriers to opportunities for full participation and career advancement. Recognize systems of oppression and exclusion and actively work towards inclusion. Ensure equity through active practices that counteract histories of exclusion. Address harms of racist and discriminatory histories and how they manifest in today's practices, such as colonial and parachute science.
Racism and anti-racism in the geosciences
- Where are the Black geoscientists? by Munira Raji and Hendratta Ali
- No progress on diversity in 40 years by Rachel Bernard and Emily Cooperdock
- Combating Racism in the Geosciences: Reflections From a Black Professor by Vernon R. Morris
- Race and racism in the geosciences by Kuheli Dutt
- Racial microaggressions in science by Marshall Shepherd
- Diversity Crisis in UK Geoscience Research Training by Natasha Joanne Dowey et al.
- How to include Indigenous researchers and their knowledge by Virginia Gewin
- What does diversity look like in the geosciences?
Read this series of interviews at Stanford University written by Elenita Makani Nicholas:
- Q&A: What does it mean to be Black in the geosciences?
- Q&A: What does it mean to be Asian American in the geosciences?
- Q&A: How does Indigeneity intersect with the geosciences?
- Q&A: What does it mean to be Latinx in the geosciences?
Excellent resources by geoscientists
URGE- Unlearning Racism in Geoscience is a NSF-funded community-wide journal-reading and policy-design curriculum to help geoscientists unlearn racism and improve accessibility, justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (AJEDI) in our discipline.
GeoContext: A social and political context for geoscience education. Excellent site with resources and teaching modules for undergraduate and graduate courses to assist educators in integrating topics on racism, colonialism, imperialism, environmental damage, and exploitation of natural resources into subjects commonly taught within geoscience departments. Learn more about this project and read about the early career creators in this EOS article.
Geo Readings for Equity Crowd-sourced library with resources on: 1) the background of inequity in STEM higher ed, 2) particular Geoscience/Earth Science equity issues, and 3) strategies and resources for facilitating hard conversations, etc.
DEI Geoscience Literature Collection of articles related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Geosciences compiled by two early-career geoscientists, Julia Cisneros and Aída Guhlincozzi
Talking about race in earth and space science Resources for facilitating conversations about race and racism by J.C. Lerback
Communities of support (a sample)
- SOLESS (Society of Latinxs/Hispanics in Earth and Space Science)
- National Association of Black Geoscientists
- National Technical Association
- Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders in Geosciences
- Geoscience Alliance
- Black in Geoscience
- Latinx in Marine Science
- Black in Marine Science
See a broader list of communities of support in the earth, space and environmental sciences.
Community-led calls for action by scientists
Particles for Justice #Strike4BlackLives
Call for a Robust Anti-Racism Plan for The Geosciences
A Call to Action for an Anti-Racist Science Community from Geoscientists of Color: Listen, Act, Lead