The Physics Department at Occidental College unequivocally condemns racism and injustice in all forms and especially the killing of unarmed black people at the hands of law enforcement.
Racism is pervasive in this country and, unfortunately, academia is no exception. Black Americans account for 13% of US population (U.S. Census) but only 4% of the bachelor degrees in physics and < 2% of the physics faculty (AIP). The ongoing reality of violence against people of color disproportionately affects our black colleagues. So, as we voice our dissent against the treatment of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and the many other black lives we have lost to police violence, we also consider the great thinkers and scientists that never were because of the toll this racism and violence takes in our society. Systemic racism is deeply ingrained and pervasive but it is not too big a problem to solve. We commit to the work of dismantling the racial inequality within our community. Here are some of the ways we will be focusing our energy:
- Seek out discipline-specific strategies for faculty and administrators in the department to promote inclusivity, such as holding space and providing immediate support for our BIPOC students.
- Learning more about racist foundations in academia from extensive work that has already been done, and addressing the call to action from Dean Flot, “…we need to continue to examine and respond to what we may be failing to hear at Occidental.”
- Highlighting the work of black physicists in our teaching and department colloquia.
- Attending and supporting conferences that focus on promoting minoritized groups in STEM including the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) and the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP)
- Following closely the results of the AIP’s TEAM-UP initiative to track the persistent underrepresentation of black people in physics and follow their guidance for how to improve
- Report back to our students on the progress we have made on these issues.
In solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and all of those fighting for racial justice,
The Physics Department