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Sorry, I Can't Just Focus on the Science

Updated: May 30, 2020

*Photo Credit: shaggylocs on Redbubble*

And unfortunately, those names hardly scratch the surface.

Before I can even utter the name of a beautiful life lost, I am interrupted by the need to utter the next. Mid-sentence.

"Justice for Ahmau- Breon- George- Regi-?"

I don't have the opportunity to process, to grieve, to get upset over one before it's time to repeat the process for the next. After the initial public outcry subsides, these beautiful lives, souls, people, mothers, fathers, parents, sisters, brothers, siblings, aunties, uncles, cousins, sons, daughters, children, lovers, teachers, healers, protectors, doctors, engineers, wonderfully, incredibly made, perfect creations of God, become reduced to a hashtag. A former trending topic on twitter. No convictions, no consequences. No justice, no peace. Their families deal with circulated images of their departed loved one on the internet. They deal with the keyboard warriors and their "well I need to know the full story" comments. As if running, selling cigarettes, stealing, jogging, walking, breathing should ever warrant a death sentence. Capital Punishment.

And then there's us. The rest of the Black world. Watching our black bodies constantly devalued. Constantly dehumanized. We don't have the luxury of only fearing for our own safety. No, we tend to fear for our Black parents, Black siblings, and etc. We are forced to realize everyday that it can happen to any one of us. We're forced to realize it is becoming so absurdly normal and desensitizing.

As a black woman in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) and aspiring science communicator, I am only comfortable speaking for myself. And my truth is that there is no way I can just "focus on the science". I simply don't have that privilege. Of course I battle with thoughts like,

"what if jobs won't want to hire you?"

"what if this could affect your dreams of becoming an astronaut?"

“what if the organizations you’re part of prefer you stay 'neutral'?"

”what if your followers don't like it?"

What about this, and what about that? Yes. These things worry me to an extent because I would never want to jeopardize what I consider a life long dream but no dream is worth my silence on important matters. Speaking up and out about my experiences as a black woman includes every facet of my life and, unfortunately, this is one of them.

I can promise it makes me way more uncomfortable than it makes the people who disagree with my choice to share. My existence is not centered around what others find "comfortable".

After all if you disagree with having public discussions about racial inequalities and police brutality in educational/science spaces then all you have to do is NOT engage. We are the ones who have to live with and through it. We have to make face at work, school, and around people who don't understand our feelings. We have to stay on task to complete our work as if our worlds are not completely rocked every time this happens. We have to try to articulate our feelings to our overwhelmingly white counselors because while their work is appreciated, still tend to let some of their own bias cloud our sessions. (Shoutout to Black mental health workers. We need y'all now more than ever.)

Instead of putting the onus on me to censor myself how about you take responsibility.

Don't follow me if all I am is your entertainment.

Don't follow me if you are not willing to have your personal bias challenged.

Don't follow me if you're not ready to realize how you contribute to hostile environments for BIPOC in STEAM or life in general.

Don't follow me if you don't believe "politics" and racial injustices affect STEAM.

And if you don't like any of that, don't follow me at all. Don't invite me to your panels, don’t hire me, and don't put my face on your brochures.

PS it’s not just politics. That’s another privilege we do not enjoy. This is life. This is reality. These ”politics” directly affect our livelihood, daily.

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