LabXchange and #ShutDownSTEM

Robert Lue/ June 10, 2020

A graphic that depicts a diverse group of protesters observing #ShutDownStem on June 10th, 2020.

As America and increasingly other parts of the world convulse in anger, sadness, and frustration at the senseless killing of George Floyd, it serves to underline yet again the individual and societal costs of systemic racism.  For some lucky ones, it is easy to forget the persistent rhythm of racism and inequity that is so much a part of daily life for so many others.  But at the same time that we are thinking hard about what new normal will be brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is also an opportunity to do what we can to excise from this new normal the kind of thinking and actions that lead to George Floyd’s death.  Yet when faced with such a long standing problem that has cost so many lives and diminished countless others, what can any one person do?

The answer partly lies in collective action against and sustained visibility of the small and large expressions of racism that are all too commonplace.  The demonstrations and impassioned speeches of the last week begin to speak to this.  It also calls for reflection and a clear-eyed interrogation of what we do in our own lives.  This possibility could not be more personal, and the path we take with such introspection sits with each and everyone of us.  That being said, the growing community represented by LabXchange opens up another kind of reflection, one that focuses on our collective mission.  It is within this realm that I now take the opportunity to share some of my thoughts.

So much of what we do at LabXchange has a stable thread of inclusive access running through it.  The universal principle of inclusive teaching is something that we seek to integrate into our work so seamlessly that at times it can disappear into the fabric of what we do.  On the one hand, this is welcome because it commits to a systemic application of approaches that support inclusion and belonging in how we teach and learn online.  On the other hand, these universal principles should not be divorced from the broader societal forces of racism and exclusion that make these principles essential support for so many of our learners and educators.

As we add our thoughts, voices and actions  to the growing response to this latest reminder of racially-motivated injustice, all of us at LabXchange are also reflecting on the sustained connections between our work and this all too familiar tragedy.  We can then harness it to re-energize our commitment to defining a new and inclusive normal in learning online that rejects and moves beyond systemic racism and its destructive effects.  It now sits with all of us to not let hate and injustice fade into the background of the everyday as is so often the case, but rather hold it close as an impetus to push harder against these forces in our important work together.

I encourage you to join me in embracing the call for a national STEM shutdown tomorrow, Wednesday, June 10, to identify specific steps we can take as individuals and as communities to accelerate the eradication of systemic racism at our institutions and within our personal and work lives.

Robert Lue, Faculty Director and Principal Investigator, LabXchange

Resources

Supporting African American Colleagues: 

Resources for Engaging in Anti-Racism Work and Practicing Solidarity: 

Data for Science Fields: 

Racial Bias in Scientific Fields: 

Strategies for Leaders: 

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