ASB Statement on Systemic Racism

We are outraged and angered by the systemic racism and anti-Blackness that resulted in the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Rayshard Brooks. These are just the latest examples in a tragic history that stretches back over 400 years. We recognize the daily injustices and inequities that continue to plague our society and disproportionately affect our colleagues of color. We affirm that the consistent undervaluing of racialized Black and Brown individuals in society and the academy is not acceptable. The disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities of color throws into stark relief the fact that systemic racism is a public health crisis.

While the injustices and violence on the news may feel far removed from the classrooms, research laboratories, and other settings in which our members work, the systemic racism that has led to them is just as present in our workplaces and universities. The ASB membership does not represent the demographics of the US. In 2019, only 3.0% of ASB members self-identified as Black and only 5.7% self-identified as Hispanic. These demographics are indicative of the systemic barriers facing students, faculty, and professionals from marginalized backgrounds. These barriers must be addressed, and each and every ASB member has a duty to help break them down.

The ASB Code of Conduct clearly states that we, as a Society, have expectations for ethical behavior in research, teaching, and service to all segments of society. We must abide by the basic principles of respect of persons, beneficence, and justice. The recently adopted ASB Strategic Plan also outlines goals to engage members across the full diversity spectrum, and to become a leader in political advocacy, influencing public policy for issues that directly impact scientific progress and members of the scientific community. The science is clear that within STEM there are a lack of role models1, a lack of cultural awareness in mentoring2, and a lack of engagement of marginalized students in the scientific community3. Combined, these statements are a call to action for the ASB and our members to improve the field of biomechanics and the entire academic enterprise through education, outreach, and advocacy.

Over the last decade, the ASB has developed diversity and inclusion programming at the annual meeting, but this is just a start. The ASB calls on our members to create the change they wish to see. We challenge you to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with your Black and other marginalized colleagues to bring about change. Be an ally, an advocate, and an accomplice in the daily fight to bring equity. We must, and we will, seize this moment and be bold, take a stand, and insist on substantive change.

There are countless ways to begin changing our institutions, their processes, and their cultures, and they all begin with a willingness to get uncomfortable and educate ourselves. First, we must recognize that many of us participate in the institutionalized structures that hold people down. Those of us who come from majority populations must also recognize that we have been privileged and commit to lifting others up. We strongly encourage every scientist to learn about, interrogate, and attack systematic barriers to success, such as:

  • Anti-Black and racist systems used in admissions such as standardized testing6, 7, 8, 9
  • The lack of institutional support for students from marginalized groups to succeed10, 11
  • Hiring of people within established networks or who are a “good fit”12
  • The “diversity tax” where faculty from under-represented backgrounds shoulder a disproportionate burden of outreach and recruitment activities to increase diversity13, 14

For its part, the ASB pledges to take the following actions:

  • Develop programming for ASB members throughout the year to educate members on systemic racism in the academy and workplace and strategies for change
  • Integrate diversity and inclusion-related sessions into the scientific programming
  • Provide more opportunities for culturally aware mentorship for students and junior faculty, especially those who feel marginalized and under-supported at their institutions
  • Increase funding for outreach activities to marginalized communities to engage future generations of biomechanists
  • Increase funding for mechanisms that support diversification of the Society, such as the Diversity Travel Awards
  • Add an annual award to recognize a member for exceptional commitment to Diversity and Inclusion
  • Create links, ongoing dialogues, and exchange lectures with other science organizations that support individuals from under-represented backgrounds such as the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and the American Academy of Physical Therapy

 

At this years’ annual meeting, the ASB Diversity Committee is hosting a virtual event on Thursday, August 6th from 6:00-8:00 PM EDT, where we invite all members of our community to join us in a safe environment to discuss next steps. Registration details will be available on the ASB 2020 website (https://asb2020.gatech.edu/) in the coming weeks. We encourage everyone to join us.

The entire scientific community needs to work together to dismantle the systemic barriers that hamper underrepresented minorities trying to pursue careers in STEM fields. We look forward to hearing innovative ideas from our members and thank you for choosing to stand in solidarity to correct injustice.

References

[1] Bettinger and Long, 2005 [2] Ovink and Veazey, 2011 [3] Walton and Cohen, 2011 [4] https://cimerproject.org/cam-nrmn/ [5] https://www.nationalacademies.org/our-work/the-science-of-effective-mentoring-in-stemm#sectionPublications [6] https://www.aplu.org/members/commissions/urban-serving-universities/student-success/holistic.html [7] https://thenotebook.org/articles/2015/11/24/how-race-and-class-relate-to-standardized-tests/ [8] Petersen et al, 2018 [9] Kurlaender and Grodsky, 2013 [10] Culotta and Gibbons, 1992 [11] Huang, et al, 2000 [12] Sensoy and DiAngelo 2017 [13] Campbell and Rodríguez, 2019 [14] Rodríguez, Campbell, and Pololi, 2015

RESOURCES:

Podcasts

READ

Articles

STEM Readings

Books

Short Stories (Fiction and Non Fiction) Read by the Cornell Intergroup Dialogue Book Club

WATCH

Short Films

Full Length Movies (free)

Netflix/Other Film Services

  • 13th (Ava DuVernay) on the Criminalization of African American and the U.S. Prison Boom
  • American Son (Kenny Leon)
  • Dear White People (Justin Simien)
  • See You Yesterday (Stefon Bristol)
  • When They See Us (Ava DuVernay)
  • If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins) – Hulu
  • King in the Wilderness – HBO

For rent

  • Black Power Mix tape: 1967-1975
  • Clemency (Chinonye Chukwu)
  • Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler)
  • I Am Not Your Negro (James Baldwin documentary directed by Raoul Peck)
  • Selma (Ava DuVernay)
  • The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
  • The Hate U Give (George Tillman Jr.) – Hulu with Cinemax

PRACTICE

TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT RACE

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

This list is mostly adapted from the University of Michigan which sourced it from the OUD DEI Team, U-M’s Development Professionals of Color, and Anti-Racism Educators. Thank you, Sheri Notaro (U of M), for sharing the University of Michigan resource list. Thanks also to Noliwe Rooks, Sara Xayarath Hernández, Adi Grabiner-Keinan, and Neema Kudva for contributing these ideas and lists. In addition there are resources from Trey Waller (Virginia Tech) and Matt McCullough (NC A&T).

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