Dr. DaJoie Croslan, Chief Operations and Diversity Officer, AIBS
This piece is one in a series of blog entries called “BioScience Bytes.” In them, authors provide commentary on topical issues, enlivening the sciences and making science approachable for all readers.
As a scientific society, the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) is committed to increasing inclusion, diversity, equity, acceptance, and accessibility in the biological sciences. Our organization is an umbrella organization of more than 110 scientific societies and organizations that support scientists in a range of life science disciplines from botany to scientific collections to mathematical biology. We come together to collectively advocate for our common needs and to work together to improve the biological sciences community. This year, we commit to being intentional about celebrating and supporting the unique heritage and experiences of all scientists.
We recognize the importance of understanding the historical experiences of a people as they forge their way in this nation. However, a people is more than the sum of its traumas. Just as important are the excellence, expertise, and successes that exemplify its members. It is our goal to understand, broadcast, and celebrate those successes, particularly in the sciences. We invite you to do the same.
Our celebration of Black History Month will highlight individuals, organizations, articles, and activities that are shining a light on African American scientific excellence.
We invite you to reconsider how you celebrate Black History Month. Instead of using this month to remind yourself, your colleagues, your families, and African Americans of the trauma of slavery and the civil rights movement, or key sports figures and entertainers, consider lifting up individuals and organizations that are working to create spaces in which African American excellence is supported and celebrated. Here are some ways to do so:
Support minority serving societies and organizations in your discipline. Reach out to leaders of those groups and ask how you can support the organization. Ask an African American colleague what groups they are a member of and how you can support their organization.
Collaborate with African American scientists. Use this month to reach out to a few African American scientists and initiate a joint project. There are 107 Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs) that are successfully educating African American students. Find an HBCU in your region and work with its students and scholars.
Provide a research experience or opportunity for an African American student in your own society, department, laboratory, museum, or fieldwork location.
We invite you to join us in doing something different this Black History Month. Let’s re-envision who and what we highlight and take this opportunity to celebrate the leaders and voices enabling and inspiring change today. Remember support is an action word and your support can actually change the way your organization, department, or institution collaborates with, engages with, provides opportunities for, and creates an inclusive, diverse, equitable and accepting environment for African American students and scientists.