#BLM. It’s been trending everywhere these past few weeks as more and more eyes turn to the murder of George Floyd, and other POC murdered by police. Black people have always been unfairly targeted by systemic racism in this country. But for many non-POC (People of Color), this has been a wake-up call, and many are now trying to be actively anti-racist, protest against systemic racism, and be allies for the POC community. Black people face many inequalities in the STEM field. The evidence is staggering; for example, only 3% of Bachelor Computer Science degrees go to black men, and less than 1% goes to black women. Now, more than ever, it is important for non-POC to be allies for their black colleagues in the STEM field. Here are some tips on how you can be an ally.
1. Don’t stereotype. Be Professional!
When you’re in the lab with a POC, that’s not the time to compare them to your favorite rapper. In fact, it’s never the time. If you’re in a working relationship, just be professional! They are just a fellow STEM lover, just like you and everyone else in the room. If you are friends with them, please don’t ask personal questions about their race and culture. And please, don’t ask to touch their hair.
2. Don’t avoid the truth. Listen up!
Systemic racism exists everywhere in this country, and it’s especially present in the STEM field. If a POC comes to you with their concerns, don’t act like their claims aren’t valid! Just because it doesn’t affect you doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Listening to your colleagues is one of the most important things you can do to become an ally. Don’t invalidate the struggles POC face in STEM.
3. Don’t stay silent. Speak up!
Once you’ve listened, the next step is to speak up! It doesn’t matter how much you listen if it leads to no action. Use your voice, your platform, and your right to protest to make a statement for your POC STEM colleagues! In order to be a good ally and spark meaningful change, you have to tell the world what it needs to do!
4. Don’t be uninformed. Do your research!
What does being anti-racist really mean? What groups in your community are systematically oppressed? Are my family members or friends being problematic? You
need to know the answers to these questions in order to be a good ally. Do your research and stay informed about the struggles POC face in STEM. Diversify your news sources, and read new books and articles written by those in STEM fields! This not only makes you a better ally, but also a better, more well-rounded person.
Hopefully, these tips help you become a better ally! During these turbulent times, being an ally is more important than ever. Send this to your colleagues, your friends, anyone who you think could be a better ally for POC in STEM. Because at the end of the day, we’re all just a bunch of nerds.