Dear MCB Community,
The recent, horrifying incidents of violence against Black Americans are only the latest examples of the long and tragic history of systemic racism that is prevalent in American society. Racism takes many forms in America, from killings and violence to pervasive indignities that chip away daily at people’s confidence and strength. The protests that have swept the US, and a groundswell of activism and awareness, offer us hope that this is a moment that can bring actual change for the better.
We need only look at the underrepresentation of Blacks in science and in our own department, or listen to the experiences of Black colleagues, to see that MCB has its own problems with systemic racism in science. We must face these uncomfortable truths forthrightly, and we must give our Black colleagues more voice and power, in order to make MCB a better community for everyone. We took an important step in taking a harder look at our departmental culture in a fall 2019 climate survey under Venki Murthy’s leadership. One action after that survey was the formation of a task force on Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging, led by Michelle Cicerano, with the goal of catalyzing discussion, awareness, and positive change across all of MCB. There is an enormous body of knowledge about the Black experience in science, and we must learn from that work. The task force, which includes representatives from each segment of our population, is evaluating every aspect of our culture through the eyes of community members who have not previously had a voice. Working groups within this unit have projects underway, to address issues such as improving our engagement with undergraduates, demystifying the “hidden curriculum” of academia, and breaking down existing barriers to meaningful conversations about racial and structural inequities in our labs, institutions, and society. We pledge to be transparent in our work, and will keep the community up to date on our progress.
We must not only do better, we must make substantial and lasting changes in our department’s culture – not only because it is morally necessary, but because it will make MCB’s science stronger. We want to attract the best scientific talent from the widest talent pool, and to foster a community where all of us feel supported and welcome, which will ultimately help all of us succeed at doing our best work.
I hope everyone will read and reflect on these issues, and I welcome your ideas and suggestions at any time.
Chair, Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology
Resources for Engaging in Anti-Racism Work and Practicing Solidarity
Resources for Engaging in Anti-Racism Work (google drive)
Resources for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) to Engage in Self-Care
Ways to Support:
Supporting African American Colleagues:
Data for Science Fields:
Racial Bias in Scientific Fields:
Strategies for Leaders: