Skip to main content

I stand with DNLee

Come correct or step to. Presumptuous blog editors, you don't want none of DNLee.
Image credit: DNLee
For background, check out Sean Carroll's excellent overview over at Cosmic Variance. The gist is that a minority woman postdoc (DNLee) was asked to contribute to a biology blog. When she turned down the invitation, things got all nonlinear:
[A]n editor named “Ofek” at asked DNLee to provide some free content for him. She responded with: 
Thank you very much for your reply.
But I will have to decline your offer.
Have a great day.
Here’s what happens less often: the person asking for free content, rather than moving on, responds by saying 
Because we don’t pay for blog entries?
Are you an urban scientist or an urban whore?
Read those two sentences from Ofek again. There's a lot rolled up in there. It's almost like fine wine. A full-bodied set of isms: sexism, classism, racism. You don't get that explicit taste in modern isms, with all their subtleties and subdued, implicit textures. Modern isms are like flavored water. This here, this is the real deal. Ofek's statement has a rich aroma of insecure frustration that assaults your palate before the first sip. Once on your lips you realize: oh my! This is a big one. Complex, seductive in its simplistic reductionism (she only wants that cash money!). The juxtaposition of "urban scientist" and "urban whore" all in one line. How does it fit?! It's almost overwhelming if it weren't for how short the statement was. And the finish! What flourish as you think on it a bit more. Do I taste citrus? Lemons? No, that's the presumptuousness you only get with the angry hurrumph of an entitled old man. So complex, this one. Savor it while you can, because it's going underground again, only to reemerge over colloquium dinner as a jumble of microaggression and bad assumptions.

You know, I almost admire Ofek for just tossing it out there in the open where it can be addressed head on. Whether it was a slip of the tongue (keyboard) on a bad day, or a cry for help, at least he was honest, unlike most of the remaining sexist/racist thoughts in people's heads. Note to self: I'm not exempted.

DNLee writes:
My initial reaction was not civil, I can assure you. I’m far from rah-rah, but the inner South Memphis in me was spoiling for a fight after this unprovoked insult. I felt like Hollywood Cole, pulling my A-line T-shirt off over my head, walking wide leg from corner to corner yelling, “Aww hell nawl!” In my gut I felt so passionately:”Ofek, don’t let me catch you on these streets, homie!”
Fortunately, she pulled it together and wrote a beautiful retort. Sean Carroll reproduces her full blog entry. I highly recommend that you mosey on over there and check it out. As for my part, I'll repost her video response below.

I sincerely hope that I could respond with such maturity and eloquence if this happened to me. I stand with you, gurl, and I'm learning from your example. I also subscribe to her blog now. Check out this entry on camel crickets.

I <3 DNLee!


Popular posts from this blog

An annual note to all the (NSF) haters

It's that time of year again: students have recently been notified about whether they received the prestigious NSF Graduate Student Research Fellowship. Known in the STEM community as "The NSF," the fellowship provides a student with three years of graduate school tuition and stipend, with the latter typically 5-10% above the standard institutional support for first- and second-year students. It's a sweet deal, and a real accellerant for young students to get their research career humming along smoothly because they don't need to restrict themselves to only advisors who have funding: the students fund themselves!
This is also the time of year that many a white dude executes what I call the "academic soccer flop." It looks kinda like this:

It typically sounds like this: "Congrats! Of course it's easier for you to win the NSF because you're, you know, the right demographic." Or worse: "She only won because she's Hispanic."…

Culture: Made Fresh Daily

There are two inspirations for this essay worth noting. The first is an impromptu talk I gave to the board of trustees at Thatcher School while I was visiting in October as an Anacapa Fellow. Spending time on this remarkable campus interacting with the students, faculty and staff helped solidify my notions about how culture can be intentionally created. The second source is Beam Times and Lifetimes by Sharon Tarweek, an in-depth exploration of the culture of particle physics told by an anthropologist embedded at SLAC for two decades. It's a fascinating look at the strange practices and norms that scientists take for granted.
One of the stories that scientists tell themselves, whether implicitly or explicitly, is that science exists outside of and independent of society. A corollary of this notion is that if a scientific subfield has a culture, e.g. the culture of astronomy vs. the culture of chemistry, that culture is essential rather than constructed. That is to say, scientific c…

The Long Con

Hiding in Plain Sight

ESPN has a series of sports documentaries called 30 For 30. One of my favorites is called Broke which is about how professional athletes often make tens of millions of dollars in their careers yet retire with nothing. One of the major "leaks" turns out to be con artists, who lure athletes into elaborate real estate schemes or business ventures. This naturally raises the question: In a tightly-knit social structure that is a sports team, how can con artists operate so effectively and extensively? The answer is quite simple: very few people taken in by con artists ever tell anyone what happened. Thus, con artists can operate out in the open with little fear of consequences because they are shielded by the collective silence of their victims.
I can empathize with this. I've lost money in two different con schemes. One was when I was in college, and I received a phone call that I had won an all-expenses-paid trip to the Bahamas. All I needed to do was p…