August 4, 2020

The past few months have seen a surge in the acknowledgement of racism and systemic inequity in academia and a desire by white/majority allies to learn and take action. However, many of us may find ourselves paralyzed when it comes to beginning to have conversations about race and racism with our colleagues and mentees. So, how do we overcome this activation energy barrier?

Luckily, the Graduate Division at University of California San Francisco (UCSF) just released two excellent guides for talking about race and inequity in science: a faculty guide and a guide for students and postdocs.The guides are tailored to their respective audiences, though the authors advise all participants to read both guides to gain a better understanding of how the other cohort may approach these conversations. 

The faculty guide for talking about race and inequality in sciencebegins with initial comments on the topics of intersecting structures of power, power dynamics, and the relationship of science and society. Following that, the guide is organized into three parts: setting the stage, having the conversation, and keeping the conversation going. 

The student/postdoc guide for talking about race and inequality in science begins with brief comments on power dynamics and identities/biases. It then presents four possible scenarios related to having these conversations with their PI, directing readers to appropriate sections within the guide based on the different scenarios. The remainder of the guide is organized into three parts: tips and guidance for initiating a dialogue with your PI, restorative justice, and foundational principles for solidarity.

Action items for our community

  • Read the guides and begin to have conversations in your own labs!