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C&EN stands in solidarity with communities of color

by Bibiana Campos-Seijo
June 3, 2020 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 98, Issue 22


A photo of a raised fist and the words "I am a chemist. Black lives matter."
Credit: We Rep STEM. You can download these graphics on their Twitter page here

In light of the killing of George Floyd, C&EN stands in solidarity with Black Americans, and we condemn the injustice, inequality, and violence that continues to disproportionately affect them.

We’d like to offer our support. This week we asked members of the chemistry community how we can do that and received a number of suggestions, including checking in on colleagues, creating spaces for conversations, and offering allyship. We heard that a first step would be to start conversations with friends and colleagues who feel affected. We heard that we should be ready for these conversations to turn uncomfortable, and all the while we should remain open and honest. And we heard that these conversations give everyone the space to share their feelings, thoughts, emotions, and concerns—and signal that it’s OK to talk about them. As one chemist told us, “Knowing that you aren’t the only one dealing with the situation or responding to a situation is powerful.”

And in some cases, we heard nothing at all. This is understandable: the problems of racism and inequality were not created by our Black colleagues and friends. It’s not their responsibility to fix them, or to tell us how to do better. It’s on us to do the work and research as to how to strengthen our allyship.

Diversity, inclusion, and respect are core values of the American Chemical Society, which publishes C&EN. But core values mean nothing if we do not take action to make sure they are in practice. And for this, we have a long way to go. Our discipline consistently fails to recruit and retain Black students. We continue to fail to promote and recognize Black chemists. We continue to place an unequal burden on Black faculty and scientific leaders via invisible work. We continue to indulge in harmful tokenism. We must do better.

C&EN can do better. We’ve been consciously working to include diverse voices in our pages, and that work will continue. In the coming months, we will better examine the effects of systemic racism in the chemistry community and give space to those with concrete actions to enact change. We recognize our shortcomings in building a more diverse staff and are taking action to build that pipeline.

We must listen to our Black friends and colleagues; understand where these roadblocks happen and dismantle them; and rebuild our organizations in a way that embraces diversity, inclusion, and respect. One way to build that future is to focus now on building up young leaders in chemistry, the Black students and scientists who see this profession as their lifeblood and who, if we don’t support, mentor, and protect, will leave before they can achieve their goals. Invite them to coauthor a paper or grant, or invite them to give a talk in your next event.

In the coming months, we will reach out to the broader chemistry community for nominations for programs like C&EN’s Talented 12 and 10 Start-ups to Watch, for story ideas around underrepresented people in chemistry, and other projects we hope will exemplify our commitment to inclusion. But don’t wait for us—email with your thoughts.

Views expressed on this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of ACS.


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