Call for a Robust Anti-Racism Plan for The Geosciences

As of Sept 1st, 2020 over 25,000 people have signed the petition started by Dr. Hendratta Ali asking for 15 tangible actions to make the geosciences more equitable and just (Google doc version).

We, the undersigned, appreciate that many geoscience societies[1] have written statements referring to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Julius Jones, Belly Mujinga, Tony McDade, Joāo Pedro, Willie Simmons, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, Kendrick Johnson, Tamir Rice, Darren Rainey, Darrius Steward (and sadly the list goes on… and on… and on…) and other Black People in the United States as well as the systemic racism plaguing our society. We also value initiatives – such as the Geological Society of America’s On to The Future and Paleontological Society’s anti-racism resources – that were built in recognition of the significant lack of diversity in the geosciences and its many professional societies.

At the same time, we humbly but firmly demand all geoscience societies and organizations take concrete action against racism – particularly the anti-Black racism that plagues our community – because written and/or oral denouncement does not go far enough. Those of us – especially white and otherwise privileged geoscientists – who have been mostly silent must take advantage of the following action plan to engage in meaningful anti-racism and not be complicit in racism, discrimination, and inaction any longer.

Some societies have gone further with their statements than others. The Paleontological Society, for example, posted their support for #BlackLivesMatter and anti-racism on their home page. In contrast, the Geological Society of America (GSA) posted a statement on the GSA message board, hidden behind multiple clicks, instead of featuring it on the front page of the GSA website. Other societies – like the American Geophysical Union (AGU), Society for Exploration Geophysicists, and the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography – failed to specifically reference anti-Black racism. Even worse, some societies – for example, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) – have been uncomfortably silent. At this time of much-needed solidarity, most society and organization responses to their Black membership mirror similar unsupportive responses toward other minoritized communities (e.g., people with disabilities, LGBTQ+, foreign nationals, women, Latinx, and Indigenous People). Thus, a statement of solidarity is a simple first step towards a commitment to equity.

“In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.” – Angela Y. Davis