This is one of the many projects that grew out of the uprising against racism and police violence that began barely a week ago, in response to the murder of George Floyd by four Minneapolis police officers.  What I find especially striking in this case is that most of the initiators are physicists and astronomers, with a particular concentration at Caltech and some of the other campuses in the Los Angeles area.

Here is some of the relevant text:

In the wake of the most recent murders of Black people in the US, it is clear that white and other non-Black people have to step up and do the work to eradicate anti-Black racism. As members of the global academic and STEM communities, we have an enormous ethical obligation to stop doing “business as usual.” No matter where we physically live, we impact and are impacted by this moment in history.…

Here I would like to interject, for the sake of my French colleagues, that there is no need to focus on developments in the United States.   French practices provide ample scope for action and reflection.

To continue:

…For Black academics and STEM professionals, #ShutDownAcademia and #ShutDownSTEM is a time to prioritize their needs— whether that is to rest, reflect, or to act— without incurring additional cumulative disadvantage.

Those of us who are not Black, particularly those of us who are white, play a key role in perpetuating systemic racism. Direct actions are needed to stop this injustice. Unless you engage directly with eliminating racism, you are perpetuating it. This moment calls for profound and meaningful change. #ShutDownAcademia and #ShutDownSTEM is the time for white and non-Black People of Color (NBPOC) to not only educate themselves, but to define a detailed plan of action to carry forward. Wednesday June 10, 2020 will mark the day that we transition into a lifelong commitment of actions to eradicate anti-Black racism in academia and STEM.

Up to now I have seen no similar initiatives on the part of mathematicians, but I found it encouraging that John Bergdall used the expressions state-sponsored killing of African-Americans and American police terrorism in his opening remarks during the “local” panel at last week’s online CARTOON conference.  Finding the right names for the many visible and persistent consequences of racism within our own profession as well is a good place to start.  And studying the history of the mathematical institutions’ attempts to find ways to react to even the most blatant manifestations of racism places current practices in valuable perspective — Michael Barany’s sobering account of the creation of the AMS Notices should be read by everyone who still believes mathematics is intrinsically apolitical.





2 thoughts on “#SHUTDOWNSTEM

  1. Pingback: What would we build instead? | Mathematics without Apologies, by Michael Harris

  2. Pingback: Thoughts on #ShutDownSTEM day | Mathematics without Apologies, by Michael Harris

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