HS
Hydrological Sciences

The Young Hydrologic Society Stands Against Racism

In reaction to the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Tayloy and too many others, we, early career scientists of the Young Hydrologic Society, are taking a stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. We pledge to take actionable steps to amplify the voices of Black hydrologists in particular, and our Researchers of Colour colleagues in general, while fighting racial discrimination in the global hydrology community. Black members of our scientific and personal communities are subjected to systemic racism and are justly enraged over the murders and discrimination of Black people everywhere. Our current focus is on the Black Lives Matter movement, but moving forward we will actively listen to the needs of Black and People of Colour and work together to fight discrimination and racism within the geosciences.

Racism is more than police brutality. Individual and institutional racism exist globally and academia is not immune to racism. In the US, only 10% of PhD graduates are People of Colour [1, 2]. Similar underrepresentation can be found in the UK, where only 1.2 % of PhD stipends are awarded to People of Colour, despite making up 14% of the population [3, 4, 5].

The hydrologic and geoscience community is certainly no exception, as this is a result of systemic discrimination and our individual unconscious biases. What does racism in the geosciences look like? The lack of diversity in the geosciences results from barriers that marginalized communities face even entering sciences in general [2].  Another example includes researchers exploiting their community partners. We’ve barely scratched the surface with these examples and more personal accounts can be found on Twitter – #BlackInTheIvory and #BlackinSTEM.

YHS’s Actions for Anti-Racism

YHS will take the following anti-racist actions.

  • We will ensure our Research “Hylights” and Hallway Conversations feature diverse voices from the hydrologic community.
  • We will improve our advertisements for YHS board members to reach a wider community, particularly through social media.
  • We will reach out to support new and existing national representatives and YHS chapters from underrepresented regions.
  • We will invite the YHS community to come together regularly to listen to their needs, support their initiatives, and improve YHS leadership transparency and accountability.
  • We will actively advocate for and hold our professional societies accountable to adopting anti-racist policies and improving the representation of Black hydrologists and Hydrologists of Color.
  • We will reflect on and evaluate our progress towards the aforementioned actions every six months and develop new anti-racist and anti-discriminatory action plans to hold ourselves and wider community accountable.

Individual’s Actions for Anti-Racism

In addition to YHS’s actions, we as individuals must take steps to continuously educate ourselves, and possibly others, about the racism and discrimination, especially the subtleties and complexities involved, as well as making meaningful structural and cultural changes both in our personal and professional lives.

  • Educate yourself. This does not mean, asking your Black friends and colleagues to do it for you. Inform yourself about the histories of racism in your own country/field/institution, the personal stories and research of Black hydrologists, and best practices for being an ally. Some resources to help you get started can be found here:
    • Mireille Cassandra Harper: 10 steps to non-optical allyship     If You Are White And Anti-Racist, This Non-Optical Allyship Guide Is Required Reading
    • Great article specifically about the geosciences by Kuheli Dutt: Race and racism in the geosciences Race and racism in the geosciences
    • Beronda Montgomery, a Professor at Michigan State University (@BerondaM,     worth following) is a diversity and mentoring advocate. She collated an equity reading list in this thread
    • Make time to learn how you can best support Black hydrologists and what you can do to be anti-racist. Race, class, gender, sexuality, disability and other characteristics intersect. A good starting point in regard to intersectionality is research by Kimberlé Crenshaw who coined the term in 1989. You can watch her TED talk here.
    • Another good resource is this: An Antiracist Reading List by Dr Ibram X. Kendi
  • Listen to and amplify the voices of Black hydrologists, Hydrologists of Colour, and other hydrologists in underrepresented communities. Twitter is a great way to to do this, for example search for #BlackInSTEM, #BlackAFinSTEM, @GeoLatinas, @500womensci, #BlackInGeoscience. However, we urge members of the hydrology community to find other creative ways to put Black, People of Colour, and other underrepresented voices first.
  • Recognize your own biases. Take the Implicit Association Test to assess and recognize your own implicit racial biases.
  • Reflect on the diversity of your colleagues, collaborators, syllabi, and reading lists. Ask yourself, “Are most of my contacts from one or two research groups or regions? Am I covering the work of underrepresented researchers and hydrologists in my classes? Am I only reading articles and journals from certain countries?” With these questions we can start to be considerate of the barriers that face our colleagues – such as, the high costs of attending an annual European Geophysical Union (EGU) or American Geophysical Union (AGU) event for those in other geographical regions.
  • Reflect on how you review articles. Ask, “Do I hold more preference to articles coming from certain regions or universities?” We suggest keeping your biases in mind when peer reviewing articles and ensuring your criticism is constructive.
  • Celebrate Role Models. A recent study found that the sense of belonging of Black women in science, technology, engineering and math training programs depended on whether they had role models who shared their racial identity [6]. With regard to celebrating role models, award nominations are upon us. Every EGU member can nominate a fellow hydrologist for an EGU award. The deadline for 2021 nominations is the 30th of June 2020. This is your opportunity to honour scientific achievements, particularly achievements by Black hydrologists and other Hydrologists of Color. We encourage that award committees undergo diversity, equity, and inclusion training to reduce the negative impacts of their unconscious bias and survivor bias when selecting awardees.
  • Hold Leadership Accountable. Remember that while the news coverage may die down, the challenges faced by Black people will not. Press your mentors, advisors, and leaders in the community to be aware of their cognitive biases and hold them accountable to enact change. Don’t start from scratch without input from marginalized communities. Black and underrepresented communities have already given suggestions for individuals and organizations. For example, see A Call to Action for an Anti-Racist Science Community from Geoscientists of Color: Listen, Act, Lead and a Call for a Robust Anti-Racism Plan for The Geosciences

Artwork by Danielle Coke (Personal Site, Instagram, Twitter)

Contribution by Lina Stein, Sheila Saia, Caitlyn Hall, Andrea Popp, Harsh Beria, Sina Khatami, Nilay Dogulu, Hannes Müller-Thomy, and the Young Hydrologic Society (YHS) team

Blog is cross-posted on the YHS website.

References

[1] Goldberg, Emma, 2019. Earth Science Has a Whiteness Problem, The New York Times

[2] Dutt, Kuheli, 2020. Race and racism in the geosciences, Nature Geoscience, 13(1), pp.2-3.

[3] Williams, Paulette; Bath, Sukhi; Arday, Jason; Lewis, Chantelle, 2019. The Broken Pipeline – Barriers to Black PhD Students Accessing Research Council Funding

[4] Hill, Steven; Turner, Nicola, 2019. Access and success for black, Asian and minority ethnicity groups in postgraduate research study

[5] Population of England and Wales – GOV.UK Ethnicity facts and figures

[6] Johnson, India R; Pietri, Evava S.; Fullilove, Felicia, 2019. Exploring Identity-Safety Cues and Allyship Amoung Black Women Students in STEM Environments, Psychology of Women Quarterly, 43(2):131-150.

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