This call to action was inspired by frustration, anger, and ultimately hope. It arose out of a series of emotional outpourings in several conversations between Dr. Vernon Morris and members of his peer mentoring group, and separately with colleagues within the NOAA Cooperative Science Center in Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology. These colleagues encouraged him to write down his thoughts. Less than a week later, he and a small group of other scientists and other supporters turned those drafts into the letter you see here, “A Call to Action for an Antiracist Science Community from Geoscientists of Color: Listen, Act, Lead.”
The scientific community lacks equity in racial representation and participation. In some cases this is despite significant investment of effort, of empathy and of good intentions. In other cases it is a result of overt and intentional discrimination. What we need is a road map – a clear set of directives that will overturn the common practices that create and maintain an inequitable system. Amid the wave of public statements and the inevitable protest fatigue, we sought to articulate more than a statement condemning racism, but to also bring ideas to the table for where to go from here.
We look to the activists, scholars and other leaders who are at the forefront of efforts to transform the criminal justice system for their leadership in this area, and ask scientists to support and heed their calls. The racist roots of the inhumane treatment of Black people and other people of color within the criminal justice system also pervade the scientific community.
Our call for change within the geosciences and the broader scientific community recommends changes that will help create an anti-racist scientific community. These changes require a commitment at the individual level as well as leadership from professional societies, academic institutions, and federal science mission agencies. We hope your future actions make these calls for change a reality.