Like many, we have watched the recent murders and occurrences of racial violence against the Black community with horror. Anti-Black racism doesn’t stop at the border. Canada is built on the same systems in which acts of institutionalized racism occur. The recent death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet in Toronto highlights once again the need for Canada to address its continued systemic anti-Black racism.
For some of us, including our predominantly white leadership, we have the privilege of not experiencing these racial injustices, but there are people in our community who live it everyday. We stand in solidarity with the Black and Indigenous communities, who both experience alarming rates of institutionalized violence in Canada. We acknowledge the systemic anti-Black racism that impacts the Black community professionally and personally and recognize that these racist structures underpin our STEM institutions.
The CIC and its constituent societies (the Canadian Society for Chemistry, the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering, and the Canadian Society for Chemical Technology) commit to evaluating our institutional structure and actively incorporating anti-racist policies and practices. To promote the inclusion and advancement of underrepresented minorities, including the Black community, we will be implementing a recently approved self-identification survey. At the end of this statement, we are including a list of resources and actions. We additionally encourage our membership to self-educate and seek other resources to continually practice anti-racism. This must be a long-term and ongoing commitment.
During a presentation on equity and diversity at our recent annual general meeting, the CIC community was challenged to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. We choose to embrace this discomfort and to join these vital conversations about anti-Black racism in STEM and beyond. Our discomfort is nothing compared to the real pain experienced by Black and Indigenous people on a daily basis and it is long overdue that everyone educates themself, speaks up, and supports these movements.
Actionable items for members of the chemical sciences community in Canada to amplify and promote the voices and accomplishments of Black and Indigenous people:
- Initiate a conversation in your workplace to better incorporate anti-racist practices
- Professional development and advancement:
- provide opportunities for Black and Indigenous people to present and promote their work (meetings with invited speakers, attending conferences, etc.)
- ensure authorship on manuscripts is equitable
- cite Black and Indigenous authors in your writing
- acknowledge and promote the additional work and accomplishments of Black and Indigenous people
- write letters of reference, scholarship, and award nominations for Black and Indigenous people
- ensure Black and Indigenous people are part of the peer-review process
- sponsor, mentor, advance, and hire Black and Indigenous people to leadership positions
- Ensure the voices of Black and Indigenous people are actively listened to, and that feedback is acted upon
- Write and establish a Code of Conduct with your group/team, and ensure that discriminatory behaviours and language are not acceptable in your environment
- Be cognizant of your power and privilege
- Commit to self-education and self-learning to reduce the burden on Black and Indigenous people
- Ensure that division of labour in your environment is equitable
- Commit to recruiting diversity and promoting inclusion within your environment
- Encourage an environment that promotes good mental and physical health for your trainees, and recognize that systemic racism negatively impacts mental and physical health
- Be cognizant that Black and Indigenous communities are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19
- Ensure that research/team meetings do not conflict with equity, diversity, and inclusion events or initiatives
- Support and buy from Black and Indigenous-owned businesses
- Follow and amplify the voices of Black and Indigenous people on social media
Decolonizing science reading list, by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein
Superior: The Return of Race Science, Angela Saini
The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power, Desmond Cole
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, Robin DiAngelo
How to be an Anti-Racist, Ibram X. Kendi
So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo
Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present, Robyn Maynard
This list of resources and organizations is by no means exhaustive, so please support and read widely.