Dear Students, Postdocs, Staff, and Faculty,
The U.S. is in turmoil, and as physicists we may feel out of our element when trying to address the on-going pain and conflict. We abhor the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Tony McDade by current or former law enforcement officers. We express solidarity with individuals and groups organizing privately and publicly in resistance to systemic anti-Black racism in policing. However, statements of affirmation are not enough. As President Cartwright recently wrote to the UCF community, “What is needed now is action — a commitment from our university to not merely celebrate our diversity, but to be actively anti-racist. Systemic racism, sexism, homophobia and other hateful ideologies seek to deny our shared humanity. They must be called out and confronted. They do not reflect the values of our UCF community.”
Physics training generally does not prepare us for what it means to take action against racism. Here are some questions we should all consider and some valuable resources:
- What can we learn about the history of race, racism, and anti-racism in the US and racism in policing specifically? Many people are curating lists of anti-racist resources to promote self-education. Now is the time for us to use them:
- Scaffolded Anti-Racism Resources, a working document with anti-racism resources that have been ordered to allow users to select resources targeted at a desired level.
- Anti-racism Resources, a list of resources intended for white people to deepen their anti-racism work.
- Anti-racism resources, a live-updating document curated from multiple activists.
- The Effects of Police Brutality and Racism on Black Students and Professionals in Education, a webinar by the Center for African American Affairs at Minnesota State University Mankato.
- What can we learn about race, racism, and anti-racism in physics?
- Racial identity and physics. Filling Spaces interview with Simone Hyater-Adams.
- Emerging reflections from the POC at PERC discussion space. Geraldine L. Cochran, Ayush Gupta, Simone Hyater-Adams, Alexis V. Knaub, Brian Zamarripa Roman.
- What is the plan for including Tamir Rice in #STEM? Chanda Prescod-Weinstein. (Note: this piece discusses the death at the hands of police of a black child, Tamir Rice, and opens with a smiling photograph of Tamir)
- Anti-Black racism in policing: what’s it got to do with physics?, blog post by Dimitri-Dounas Fraser
- Each of us has power and privilege in our particular positions. What power do you have? How can you leverage that power to disrupt racism in policing? To disrupt racism on campus?
- Learn about your biases and how to work against them when applying course, departmental and university policies. Some resources include:
- Assess your professional leadership roles and address ways to move any organization you participate in towards anti-racism
- What resources can you provide?
- If you can, donate to organizations aligned with your anti-racism goals, such as supporting community organizers in Florida and providing mutual aid to physics students
- Consider shopping at Black-owned businesses. News sources are curating lists, such as Orlando Weekly’s 18 Black-owned restaurants in Orlando everyone should’ve tried by now
We all have occasion to learn here — including the people who put together the document you’ve just been reading. The people who wrote this message do not know everything, and there is strength in our individual experiences. If you have ideas about additional information and resources the physics department should provide or actions it should take, please reach out to Eduardo Mucciolo.