To members of the Science Policy Group at Berkeley and others in the UC Berkeley community:
Like many of you, we are heartbroken by the tragedies of the last week, all of which have taken place against the background of a long-standing and continued crisis in our country: systemic police brutality and racial violence inflicted upon Black Americans. George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery are the latest victims in a centuries-long assault against the Black community.
As early career scientists, we recognize that science is political. Chemistry is weaponized into tear gas. Machine learning and facial recognition software are leveraged to surveil and control communities. Advances in medical science are rooted in the unethical treatment of Black Americans, such as the use of HeLa cells and the Tuskegee syphilis study. To ignore the role that science plays in exacerbating racial inequity is an act of re-writing scientific history.
This reality is not new. We recognize SPG’s previous failure to explicitly connect our role as scientists with our responsibility to dismantle racist structures in our community. We acknowledge that we do not have all the answers and wish to use our privilege as researchers at UC Berkeley to address these systemic issues. As an organization, we commit to the following steps and encourage our peers to do likewise:
- Work on and advocate for issues relating to policing and race at UC Berkeley and in the Berkeley community
- Approach the question of whom science and science policy are meant to benefit and serve, and whom they have historically served and marginalized
- Focus on issues of marginalization of under-represented groups, particularly Black Americans, in our advocacy efforts, and build networks with groups across campus led by graduate students of color
These efforts require all of SPG working together to succeed. So, we urge you to keep us accountable as we refocus SPG’s priorities, and we welcome the input of our community members, particularly those who have been disproportionately harmed by police brutality and racial violence. We encourage members to join the #urm-advocacy channel in our Slack as we continue to work on these issues as a group.
Please stay safe and take care of each other. We are here to support you in any way that we can.
Executive Board, Science Policy Group at Berkeley