Systemic racism permeates every aspect of our lives—and, as people of color who work in science can attest, the lab is no exception.
Researchers have been saying so for years, but it wasn't until 2020 when those individual voices coalesced into a national anti-racism movement. On June 10 of 2020, spurred by the recent killings of Black Americans, thousands of scientists left the laboratory and hundreds of universities and laboratories closed down for the day to advocate for racial equity and oppose racism in the STEM fields as part of the #ShutDownSTEM and #ShutDownAcademia initiative. They used the hashtags on social media to amplify their message of eradicating anti-Black racism.
That national discourse has continued—as well it should have, says Dana Moss, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at Corning. As the leader of Corning's Office of Racial Equality and Social Unity’s internally focused efforts, Moss sees the dialogue as one that doesn't just support individual scientists, but science as a whole.
"There's always value in diversity, in terms of innovation and diversity of thought in STEM fields," she said. "But when contributions of diverse scientists are overlooked, it hampers research. It holds back breakthroughs."
Indeed, racial reckoning calls for uncomfortable conversations and difficult introspection, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania says. But before anyone can be anti-racist, they have to understand the pernicious effects of bias in STEM research.
It starts with listening—and continues with action.