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June 19th, 2020

INSTAAR statement on systemic racism

The appalling, hateful murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many other Black U.S. Americans are tied to an enduring history of institutionalized racism against Black people in the United States. This pervasive racism, and the violence it generates, weighs heavily on us. Black Lives Matter. We stand with our Black community and the protesters demonstrating against injustice.

We are also reckoning with the overdue realization that we are part of the same systems that led to that violence. We are part of a predominantly white profession, in a predominantly white institution, and our norms have been in conflict with our values.

As researchers in the Earth sciences, we understand cumulative effects and how systems interact. We also see how climate and environmental issues combine to disproportionately affect people who are marginalized, especially BIPOC communities. That understanding must support us in doing our part to dismantle implicit, systemic racism in our own spaces.

We are committed to building an inclusive, actively antiracist institute where Black people and people from all groups underrepresented in science and academia are welcome, safe, and supported. To start, we are:

  • Engaging in both institute-wide bias training and a professionally-led antiracism training program focused on creating an inclusive culture and on goal setting and outcomes.
  • Drawing on existing materials and methods developed by Black and BlackinSTEM voices to generate our action items.
  • Prioritizing our time and financial resources to ensure that we make INSTAAR more just and equitable.
  • Participating in sharing and accountability sessions that help us educate ourselves, engage with new knowledge, and identify action items. Our first session was part of #ShutDownSTEM on Wednesday, June 10.
  • Challenging ourselves and our approach to our science to make a difference. Our internal task force on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion is formulating specific paths for us to follow, which will include changes in our practices for recruiting, hiring and supporting scholars; and building accountability into our standing rules.

We commit to these processes not because it will give us better science (although it will) or build a stronger community (again, it will); but because justice and humanity demand it. We have failed our Black students and colleagues and it is our responsibility to do better.

See the Chancellor's statement of actions for change at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Support systems are available for our BIPOC community at CU Boulder, including the Center for Inclusion and Social Change that supports undergraduate and graduate students across multiple identities, including students of color, LGBTQ+ students, QTBIPOC students, women and femme students and first-generation students.