I learned a lot from reading Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to Be an Antiracist“. There were times, though, when I wasn’t able to transfer those ideas and actions into the environment and culture of university and higher education. This new paper, “Responses to 10 common criticisms of anti-racism action in STEMM” (15 July 2021) carefully and clearly makes the connections I was missing. (The second M is STEMM is medicine, btw.)
As you can tell from the title, the paper addresses 10 criticisms and suggests actions to counter the criticism. Do these sound familiar to you?
- “There is no evidence of racism in STEMM.”
- “Don’t politicize STEMM! Stick to the science, not social issues.”
- “I’m not racist, so I don’t need to do anything.”
- “I only hire/award/cite based on merit; I do not need to consider race.”
- “There just aren’t as many BIPOC who want to work in STEMM.”
- “Diversity initiatives are unfair to nonminority students/faculty; it’s reverse discrimination.”
- “Education is the great equalizer.”
- “I don’t agree with racist statements, but people should be allowed to express their opinions and have debates.”
- “Focusing on anti-Black racism ignores the experiences of non-Black POC, in addition to sexism, ableism, etc.”
- “Improving racial equity and inclusivity does not benefit STEMM as a whole.”
If you’ve heard any one of these and you’re not sure how to respond to counter the misconception, I urge you to read the article.