We Need to Hear Your Voices

In support of #ShutDownSTEM, an initiative from a multi-identity, intersectional coalition of STEM professionals and academics that is taking action for Black lives, ASPB suspended its operations on Wednesday, June 10. Our websites did not function or allow financial transactions, and our journals did not process manuscripts. The Society’s governance, journal editorial boards, and staff took this time to learn about and reflect upon our individual and collective roles and responsibilities in addressing systemic racism in STEM and to identify tangible and meaningful actions that we need to take.

As we wrote last week, silence suffocates us all, and so we also need to hear your voices. We invite your input below on how ASPB may effect positive change in its efforts to support equity, diversity, and inclusion in the plant sciences and to address systemic racism within our own community. If you prefer, you can also email us at info@aspb.org.


5 thoughts on “We Need to Hear Your Voices”

  1. Thank you to everyone who made yesterday happen. Thank you to the organizers of #ShutDownSTEM (https://www.shutdownstem.com/) for assembling a huge reading list to help me and other start to grasp the magnitude and endless facets of racism.

    By asking us to stop doing “business as usual,” scientific institutions including ASPB confirmed their commitment to address racism. It takes time to learn, and without this support I would not have made time read, listen, and study about the social, cultural and racial inequities that infuse STEM and academic culture, as well as the wider world.

    I’m still reeling from my what I learned about the persistent consequences of slavery and segregation, and how this history continues to affect the lives of Black people in the US and UK, particularly from the words of Ta-Nehisi Coates – “The case for reparations”, and Reni Eddo-Lodge – “Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race” (links below).

    Thank you to everyone who shared their stories through #BlackintheIvory (https://twitter.com/hashtag/BlackintheIvory). I can’t imagine how painful it is to share your stories. They’ve left me saddened and stunned, troubled, and helped me to “see the water” – a expression used by Robin DiAngelo when talking about White Fragility (https://youtu.be/45ey4jgoxeU). Please read or listen, and learn how to recognize it and begin to unlearn it, which is necessary to be able effect real change.

    The more I read and learned the more I realized I need and want to learn.

    As DNLee so succinctly put it, “Give yourself a personal workshop. Use today to plan what your workshops are going to be this summer.” (She’s amazing – watch https://www.instagram.com/tv/CBQetylBGZ1/?igshid=reslf7rjazu4)

    I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Did you participate in ShutDownSTEM, and if so what did you learn?
    How has this time changed your perspective and plans?
    What were the most impactful resources you read or listened to?
    And particularly, what are your thoughts on how ASPB as a professional society can “effect positive change in its efforts to support equity, diversity, and inclusion in the plant sciences and to address systemic racism within.”

    -Mary Williams

    Ta-Nehisi Coates – The case for reparations (https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631/)
    Reni Eddo-Lodge – Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/30/why-im-no-longer-talking-to-white-people-about-race)

    • Internalization of racism based on colour, religion, caste, region, sexual preference, substance abuse is what I call intra personal – what is within one’s mind, why do we need to go out to the population to look for racism – it is very much within the close circle and in all probability very much within us, within me myself, we are in a state of negation or refusal when such thoughts pushes through in us surmounting all the barriers we ourselves build against these thoughts – Note that actions define thoughts and that is where a lot of people are careful who follow the customary code of polite behavior not let their thoughts to seep up to the top layer so that it translates into actions that can be judged as racism. An inner core racist thoughts and out layer polite actions is as racists as anyone who expresses racism openly if not worse. There are some who are exactly opposite to this, I feel that in many the inner core of the mind and thought has this liberty, equality, fraternity very much ingrained and hardcoded – Note that it is the layers outside and not the core that expresses things for others to observe and judge. It is not just OK to behave in a polite way, adhere to a code of conduct, just follow something like a protocol and maintain social acceptability and claim to be an anti racist – change should be in the inner core of the mind and thoughts and actions should express what is in the core.

  2. Thank you , ASPB for taking time to read and learn. Thank you for promoting education and encouraging all members to improve with our personal journeys in understanding the impact of racisms in our daily lives and the work we do through ASPB.
    I have been greatly influenced by Robin DiAngelo’s writing and speaking.
    I am also trying to improve my teaching and how I train other instructors with more culturally responsive teaching.

  3. I applaud ASPB for having shut down their activities and the website. The ASPB shutdownSTEM notice page led me to the great project called Diversify Plant Science (https://community.plantae.org/discussion/5359650208491766991/diversify-plantsci) where people can add themselves to a growing list of diverse plant scientists for everyone to have as a resource when we are considering seminar speakers and conference and workshop speakers/participants. It currently has 330 scientists enlisted. I hope we can all promote this and make it grow as we grow individually.

    I am also pleased and impressed to see a number of workshops at the upcoming ASPB conference (https://plantbiology.aspb.org/) on diversity and inclusion. I am looking forward to attending them and I hope more people will consider registering to attend this meeting. I would like to encourage ASPB to give EVERYONE the 10-people group discount rate to encourage as many people to attend this virtual conference. After all, we should consider all plant scientists as a single group that is much larger than 10. Let us practice what we preach.

    The recent TAGC 2020 digital conference organized by the Genetics Society was free to all and attracted something like 14,000 people to attend. I think this should be considered as a model. If ASPB’s goal is grow its community and increase its diversity, making its first digital annual conference accessible to everyone seems like a great start.


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