In the aftermath of George Floyd and many others’ murders, police and armed forces have instigated violence against peaceful protesters across the nation. Our small community in Bloomington is no exception to racism and pervasive tolerance of it .
We at ScIU support the Black Lives Matter movement and the peaceful protests occurring across the country, and we condemn the escalating violence at the hands of local police departments, federal service members, and elected officials. We also believe that the statements from IU’s President, Michael McRobbie, University Graduate School Dean and Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs, James Wimbush, and Dave O’Guinn, Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, must be only the beginning of our community’s work towards addressing racism and other forms of bias pervasive within academia and in broader society.
Below is a starting point for helping protesters, amplifying the voices of Black scientists, and engaging with anti-racist literature. We encourage our readers to use these resources as a springboard to take action in the coming days, weeks, months, and beyond, to work towards an equitable and just society.
In this piece, Danielle Cadet discusses a “tale of two quarantines” noting that the stresses many academics are facing in light of the COVID–19 crisis are steeped in inequity. While you may be tired of working from home or frustrated by stalled research, your Black colleagues “have woken up and answered the emails and gotten on the Zoom calls” while living through what Ibram X. Kendi has called The American Nightmare: one where their friends and families are dying at higher rates of not only coronavirus, but systemic racism and outright violence. Cadet, Kendi, and countless others, need their white colleagues like myself to know that they are hiding their fear, pain, and rage from us, and that they have been doing so for years, because up until now academia has provided little except kind words unsupported by concrete action. Here is what Kandise Le Blanc is calling white to do instead of simply “checking in” on our Black colleagues: Dear White People, This is What We Want You to Do.
Stacey Ault notes that she has been checked in on by several colleagues with well wishes and inquiries for ways to help. She has collated a list of actions for academics, many of which are about plugging in to work that is already being done by your marginalized colleagues. In addition to joining grassroots organizations, showing up in whatever capacity you can, and engaging in local politics, Ault encourages academics to take on the racist history of their fields of study: “Explore how your area of expertise has done harm. Call it out and commit to doing no more. Make sure your syllabus and reading materials center Black authors and are inclusive of Black people’s lived experiences.” Again, much of this work is already under way (for example, the BLM syllabus initiative; Layla F. Saad’s Me and White Supremacy Workbook [also give her podcast Are We Addicted to Privilege? a listen]; Ibram X. Kendi’s Anti-Racist Reading List), and we need to engage with and amplify it.
Acknowledge that it is happening: Police Erupt in Violence Nationwide
Some may think that now is not the time to speak up, or they may be afraid to say the wrong thing, but scientists and other academics cannot remain silent against racism and police brutality any longer. Whether it is by reaching out to your colleagues of color; attending protests, or supporting protesters by donating water, food, and Personal Protective Equipment; donating to bail-out funds, supporting Black-owned businesses, or even streaming YouTube videos to generate ad revenue; diversifying your syllabi, or teaching courses which center — rather than feature — racial injustices in your field (perhaps a Collins course, for IU grad students); or talking to members of your community about what is happening in our country right now, do something.
 In my five years as an IU student alone: BPD purchased a militarized vehicle with taxpayer funds originally meant for a non-violent police garage space. Racially motivated hate crimes have been perpetrated against IU students Joseph Smedley, Alice Aluko, and others, and hate crimes have even been committed by IU students. Related to confirmed white supremacist activity at the Bloomington Farmer’s Market [which is still ongoing], police have had differing reactions to racism, arresting protestors while protecting the “free speech rights” of alt-right militia groups. IU is also the only university in America which allows student trainees to work as police officers, directly contributing to distress for IU students. These are only a few examples which have been picked up by media outlets.
 And no, changing your profile picture is not doing something. See Rebecca Jennings’ Blackout Tuesday and performative allyship on social media.