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Showing posts from June, 2015

Confronting My Own Racism

by: Jessica Kirkpatrick

I am a white woman, and I have spent most of my life not thinking about race. Not in a "we live in a post-racial America" type of way, but just that on an everyday level it didn't really come up that much. Of course when something overtly racist happened, I would notice and be upset by it. I knew that people of color (POC) are underrepresented in STEM, I thought this was a bad thing, and I wanted to increase the number of underrepresented minorities (URM) in Astronomy and Physics. But overall, race and racism was an occasional thought that would briefly come to my mind, and then quickly leave.

Examining My Whiteness

by Erin
In his last post, John posed the following questions:
What does it mean for you to be white in the US, or Western Europe, or the world?How does your whiteness affect the conversations you have in your daily lives?
I've been thinking about this quite a bit (as you may imagine!) and share my responses here:
I'm white. But until recently I didn't know it.  I know that sounds silly, because I've checked those "white" boxes for all of my life, but I didn't deeply examine what it meant to be white because I never had to. I always thought of myself as differently. Or I didn't think of whiteness as a thing - I was just "normal, or American". My family's ethnic heritage is Italian, French and German and so that's how I've seen myself...as the embodied mashup of my relatives who emigrated to US 4-5 generations ago. Regardless, just as the world sees John as black, I'm seen as white.  My whiteness allows me to blend in. To go unn…

I love white people. Seriously!

I've been getting a lot of email, private Tweets, and Facebook private messages that seem to be expressing a common theme: "Why don't you like white people? Why are you so bitter against white people? Be nice to white people!"
Allow me to clarify something very important: I love white people. Not to sound like a white person talking about their "black friend," or the sexist talking about how "my mom is a woman," but I work with white people, advise them, mentor them, eat lunch with them, get coffee with them, play basketball with them, do astronomy with them, etc. I'm the son of a white woman. I married a white woman. I have the best (white) mother-in-law anyone could ever hope for (she gave me a Black power beer stein for my birthday for chrissakes!) 
I love white people.

But you know what I have a hard time with, nay, can't stand? White culture. White culture---the straight, cis-male version in particular---is anathema to me. I think thi…

MINERVA is a fully operational robotic telescope array

Video courtesy of PlaneWave Telescopes:

What to do when you hurt someone: Stop talking, start listening

Guest post by Renée Hlozek
There have been a lot of emotions flaring within the larger astronomy community. There have been friendships severed and alliances forged while debates raged in the open forum.
As a community we've been dealing with some of the following issues [Note: please excuse the over-simplifications here - I don't mean to reduce the discussions but I want to précis some of the issues that have been discussed]: how do we deal with racism, sexism, heterosexism and ableism in astronomy in the US context and more globally?how do we confront the spectre of colonialisation (both in the past and in the narratives of colonialisation that remain)?how do we even have conversations about issues of race in astronomy, given the heated nature of the debate?how do we make a safe place to deal with issues that we may not have realised exist (given our own privilege)?how do we share our own stories (be they from a different cultural context or country) without speaking over or …

Guest post by Dimitri Robert Dounas-Frazer on Learning How to Be a White Anti-racism Ally

Today's guest blogger is Dimitri Robert Dounas-Frazer, a frequent poster in the Equity & Inclusion Facebook Page, and a white man who allies as a verb. Dimitri earned his PhD in physics from UC Berkeley and he is currently a postdoctoral researcher at CU-Boulder working on physics education research. 
When John asked me to write a guest post for his blog, he said, “Humans need to hear stories to make logical connections. We are storytellers. The story of your personal journey will help people start putting the pieces together.”
Here’s my best attempt to summarize where I am now, how I got here, and what’s on the horizon in terms of promoting equity and inclusion in Physics.
Part 1: My Whiteness
First, so that my fellow cis white men don’t feel alone when they make similar statements about themselves, it’s important to say this upfront: I have benefitted from, and contributed to, interpersonal, cultural, and institutional racism. And: I will continue to benefit from that oppressi…

Why Don't You Care?

This guest post is contributed by a UC Berkeley student who requested anonymity, not for fear of the faculty in their department, but because of fear of reprisal from her fellow students. This fear needs to be grappled with: How is it that a community that prides itself in critical thinking, free expression, curiosity and problem-solving can so quickly come together to stifle debate on a matter as important as racism in our community, the colonialist history behind the TMT, and the needed reform in our science community? Well, the answer is simple: Those who benefit from the status quo have much to lose, and what they stand to lose was taken from (or denied to) others. But as this brave, young student demonstrates, there is a revolution underway. Change is coming. It's time for people to decide which side of history they want to end up on. Today's guest author took up my call for white allies to stand up, speak out and take an active role against racism in our scientific commu…