Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Cross Posts: On the US Election: Inclusion, Allyship, & Solidarity in Astronomy & Planetary Science

Several statements, in addition to two (Nov. 9th and Nov. 14th) posted via the Women in Astronomy blog, have been posted by groups affiliated with the American Astronomical Society with regards to the recent US Presidential election and the need for inclusion, allyship, and the safe guarding of our colleagues and friends. Three of those pieces are attached (in brief forms with links to their fuller versions) here: The November 9th blog from the Astronomy in Color Blog, the November 18th post from AAS President Christine Jones on behalf of the AAS Council, and the November 20th post on the Women in Planetary Science Blog from the Men's Auxiliary Group who recently met at the Division for Planetary Sciences Conference.


1. On the US Presidential Election (from the Astronomy in Color Blog):

Dear fellow astronomers,

[Trigger warning]

The world awoke today to news of a major upset in the 2016 United States presidential election. The President-elect has based his platform on promises to build a bigger wall between Mexico and the United States, deport Latinx and Muslim people, and jail his political opponents. In addition to his xenophobic political statements, he has bragged about sexually assaulting women, whom he regularly and publicly insults.

His campaign frequently implied that those who have been labeled “other” -- women of color, men of color, immigrants of all statuses, people with disabilities, trans people, LGBQIA+ people, white women, and those who intersect these groups -- are not welcome in this country. These offensive messages have been validated by a disturbingly large percentage of the voting population. This morning, many of our colleagues woke up to a world in which they may not feel safe. Many of them are expressing fear of even leaving their own homes.

The undersigned express our solidarity with the people in the astronomy community who are directly and negatively affected by the outcome of this election. We are keeping you in our thoughts, we are feeling your pain, and we are here to support you and to fight for you in whatever way we can. We ask that our colleagues take concrete actions to affirm and validate the needs of the most marginalized members in our community.

We ask three things:

1. Send a message of support to your colleagues, and publicly commit to maintaining a safe space. Please publicly express your solidarity. If you cannot find the words, we suggest the following:
“I express my solidarity today with my colleagues who fear for their safety following the election of a President and Vice-President who have legitimized violence against and intimidation of people of color, immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and Muslim-passing folks, Jews, women of all backgrounds, trans folks, LGBQI+ people, people with disabilities, and people at the intersection of these axes. I am committed to fostering an astronomy community that is safe, welcoming, and inclusive of all people."

2. Take concrete steps to protect and advocate for colleagues and students who are particularly vulnerable right now. Please make sure that vulnerable marginalized colleagues are kept safe in our community. Advocate for them -- and more importantly -- recruit them, employ them, retain them, and promote them.

3. Take concrete steps to educate yourself about the issues pertaining to marginalized folks, and transform these lessons into action. For we will not be able to enact long-lasting progress unless we understand and challenge the systemic structures operating against these groups.

Let us all strive to make our community a safe place for everyone!

Please see the Astronomy in Color blog for suggested Action items and links attached directly to this blog.

2. Reaffirming Our Commitment to Inclusiveness (from AAS President Christine Jones on behalf of the AAS Council):

As President of the American Astronomical Society, I wish to remind members and other stakeholders of the Society's resolute commitment to promote inclusiveness. In keeping with the AAS Council's recent adoption of a comprehensive code of ethics, it is the responsibility of each of us to treat every member of our Society -- and every member of society more generally -- with respect and dignity, regardless of race, ethnicity, skin color, national origin, age, disability, religion, faith, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or political opinions. I expressed similar sentiments in my last President's Column, but they bear repeating in the aftermath of a polarizing national election that has been followed by a growing number of cruel incidents.

We must all be committed to ensuring an astronomy community that is safe and welcoming for all people, especially those who are currently underrepresented in our science and/or marginalized by society at large. I urge all AAS members to be mindful of how we treat each other and to support students and colleagues, especially those who may now feel threatened or frightened by recently reported acts of harassment, intimidation, and violence against people of color, women of all backgrounds, immigrants of all statuses, Jews, Muslims, people with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ persons, and those at the intersections of these axes. I am especially troubled by hateful acts occurring on the campuses of educational institutions.

Finally, as our colleagues in the American Geophysical Union (AGU) frequently point out, science plays a central role in America's security, economy, and well-being. Let's do our part to ensure that science continues to make our country more secure, more prosperous, and more comfortable -- for everyone.

3. Now More than Ever: Stepping Up Our Allyship (from the Women in Planetary Science Blog): 
The following post was contributed by Andy Rivkin, Bob Pappalardo, and David Grinspoon.

For the second consecutive year, we held a “Men’s Auxiliary” event at the DPS meeting as a way to discuss harassment and bias issues, and to foster allyship and better awareness and support. We look forward to reporting on the event in this blog, as we did last year. In this post, however, we are separately addressing a topic that served as an unavoidable backdrop and discussion spur for our gathering: the then-upcoming and now-recent US elections. While our individual politics and personal responses may vary, those of us in more privileged positions in our community should be aware of and not dismiss our colleagues’ concerns, and must be vigilant in taking action to minimize bias and harassment.

For the rest of this blog, please go to the Women in Planetary Science page