I am a White, cisgender gay male working in STEM. I am also the child of academics and have never wanted for anything. While I have some appreciation and experience of stigma and prejudice, I recognize my privilege and commit to being an active ally.
Created June 10, 2020. Updated June 5, 2022
- I will listen to and believe colleagues of color. This applies generally, but here I call myself out with respect to racial and gender injustice specifically. I recognize that this pledge is long overdue, and that the blame lies solely with my unwillingness to listen to hard truths, even from my friends and colleagues. I couldn't believe that things were so bad because of the opacity of my privilege.
- I will speak up when I see injustice in academia, and I will amplify minority voices. I recognize that being a true ally is an act, not just a stance. I will use my privilege to point out inequity when I see it, and to repeat what women and people of color are saying, so their voices are heard. When I amplify, I will give credit to those who said it first.
- I will actively recruit and engage with students of color. When they speak, I will listen. I will use my privilege to amplify their voices, not to steal their intellectual work and present it as my own. When others praise me for their efforts, I will actively redirect that praise to them.
- I will do everything in my power to seek out collaboration from minority participants in my research. Because my research often involves collaboration between patients and healthcare providers, I acknowledge the racist history of human subjects research in medicine specifically, and the systemic barriers to care that disproportionately affect communities of color. I also recognize the racist origins of human subjects research, and that academia still perpetuates and participates in systems of inequality. Participants owe me nothing, and I owe them respect and partnership. I will fail at this sometimes. When I fail, I will be answerable to my conscience and will publicly announce my failure in publications and presentations, paired with real planned action for the future.
- I will confront the multidimensional nature of race and racism, including class and power. In my allyship, I will account not only for racial diversity but diversity in income, geography, and in people’s relation to authority. My class privilege will be a significant barrier to me in this pledge. To counteract my blind spots here, I will actively work to uncover and account for the ways in which my research might differentially affect people based on their socioeconomic status and life experiences that differ from my own.
- I will not personally conduct research with police or the prison industrial complex. This is an easy one, because I had no plans to do so. But I have now come to realize that I do not believe policing as an institution cannot be saved, and I pledge to give it no support in my own research activities. I will still honor and support other researchers who do still work in these areas.
- I will not conduct personally research with the armed forces or the military industrial complex. This is harder, because I have done this in the past, telling myself that the basic science made it OK. I now recognize and honor the discomfort it caused me to conduct or supervise research directly tied to the improved efficiency of systems that take human life. I commit to trusting my internal discomfort more than the sense of “normalcy” that I previously used to quell it. Having said that, I will still honor and support other researchers who do still work in these areas.
- I will not participate in a “Manel”, or all-male panel. This commitment also applies to any committee or professional engagement. I had already made this pledge to myself privately but I now make it publicly.
- I will not participate in an all-White event or panel. I recognize that this will be harder because the racial inequities in STEM research are even more stark than the gender imbalance. When I can recognize an all-White meeting or event in advance, I will volunteer my spot to be taken by a person of color. In the event that I unwittingly arrive at such an event, I will declare the lack of racial diversity in stark terms and demand a modification in future.
- I will stand up for my fellow LGBTQ+ scholars. As an out and proud gay man, I will use my position of power in academia (and my white and cis male privilege) to advocate for and actively recruit and include fellow LGBTQ+ scholars, both within and beyond the IU community. Our rights are under attack more than ever, and I have a unique ability to speak my truth to power. I pledge to use it.
- I will add to this list as I learn more and strive to be a better ally. This list was the product of one day of reflection in solidarity with #blacklivesmatter and #shutdownSTEM on June 10, 2020. I recognize that one day is a drop in the ocean, and commit to returning to this list and deepening my commitment in the years to come. In March 2022 I added a new pledge (number 10) and I will continue to do so as I learn more. I also invite feedback, correction, and critique. You can reach me using the contact form on this site. If you want to stay anonymous, a fake email address is fine!