We are experiencing a moment of history that has been brewing for many decades. Now, protests are ongoing around the United States and globally that were sparked by the death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of white police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25, 2020. The outrage is fueled by the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and a devastatingly longer list of Black people who died as victims of brutal violence employed by police or self-defined security. This ongoing violence against Black people has sparked a nationwide and international outcry against the white supremacy deeply embedded in the fabric of our country, beginning with foundations built with slave labor, continuing with current systems of oppression, overt instances of racism, and with everyday microaggressions. It is a moral obligation to recognize the permeation of prejudice into all corners of society and to enact change through our actions.
We must be proactive in condemning racist, sexist and homophobic and otherwise prejudiced actions in our personal and professional circles. To begin this commitment, we must first look at our own field of chemistry, a field with a long, marvelous history but also one that is riddled with racist and sexist ideas that persist into our modern day. We wholly condemn the views expressed by Tomas Hudlicky in the now removed article published by ACIE first published on June 4, 2020. The anti-diversity opinions expressed are unacceptable and ignorant. A single prejudiced opinion, whether held as a “known secret” about an individual or placed in print for the community to see, is one too many and hurts our field and world. Chemists work on a variety of topics that affect our everyday lives, lives that are shared by a diverse community of different races, genders, sexualities, and ability statuses. We cannot expect to be able to influence the world in a positive way if we do not treat those in our own community with the respect that they deserve and make room for them. We cannot expect to be able to make change when we only welcome a small portion of our population with open arms into the research community while creating barriers for others through our actions and unconscious biases.
We must do better. We must remove toxic elements in our culture, listen carefully, and make changes required to support a diverse new generation of scientists. We must support those who fight for change within our culture, especially those now protesting against police brutality and in recognition of Black lives. We have a long way to go but we are committed to changing both our field and our society.