A Statement Against Racism in Science

Science is a racist institution to which all scientists belong, and in which we all participate—let's change that.

There are deep legacies of implicit and explicit racism rooted in the foundations of modern science, including the exploitation of indigenous and foreign peoples during exploration and the making of biological collections, the forced participation of enslaved people in scientific research, the distortion of scientific discoveries and theories in the formulation and justification of racist theories of humanity, and the ongoing denial of a professional environment that is equitable and supportive to non-white scientists in the United States. In the opening decades of the 21st century, more than 150 years after the official end of slavery in the United States, only 1% of Ph.D.s in Ecology and Evolution are awarded to Black Americans. This is wrong.

We, the undersigned, hereby declare that we will no longer participate in a racist discipline. We acknowledge the role of racism in the history of our own institution, the biases and hurtful actions in our present-day workplace, and commit ourselves to anti-racist actions and policies as the foundation of a future that is equitable, and that truly reflects our values and the demography of both our American society and the scientific community.

Every scientific institution in the United States bears the legacy of our country’s racism. It is impossible to conceive of our past colleagues, expeditions and research as being free of racist actions and beliefs. Our current body is more diverse than it has ever been, and yet still adequately reflects neither the racial diversity of American society, nor the diversity of persons who aspire and train to become professional scientists. All of us have either witnessed, heard, been subjected to, or perpetrated racist statements and actions. We have not been honest enough in the acknowledgment of our past, nor our practices in the present. And we have not been as effective as we both wish and are capable of, in creating a more equitable and diverse future for science.

Science thrives on ideas, and diversity breeds ideas. Each scientist brings their background and experiences to the scientific table, and to meet the enormous challenges currently facing our society, science must benefit, in tangible and material ways, from the true diversity of the world in which it operates.

If you share our vision of a truly equal and anti-racist institution of science, then join us. If you are sick and tired of belonging to something that denies you, or are exhausted by the often unknowing or unintentional perpetuation of systemic racism, then join us. We are building something, and we need you for a new institution of science. We will fight together until everyone who wants to be in the room feels welcome, that they belong there, and agrees the work is done. We will redefine who does science and what science does—the institution of science is by the people and for the people, not one of privilege.