The lack of diversity in STEM fields does not exist because of uninterest, but rather exclusionary barriers. The barriers that exclude Black people from science develop early. High drop off rates at each academic benchmark leave few Black scientist in leadership positions. The field of Marine Science only exemplifies the stats. Even though Black people make up about 13% of the US population, only ~1% of doctorates in ocean sciences were awarded to Black scientist in the United States from 1976-2016. The health of coastal systems, however, directly impacts Black communities, with almost half (47%) of the Black population living in a coastal community. The research and concerns of Marine Scientist directly affects most Black people, however we have very little representation at tables designated to protect these regions.
Frustrated with the state of our field but energized by events such as #BlackBirdersWeek, #BlackBotanistsWeek, and #BlackinGeoscienceWeek, a group of Black Marine Scientist and allies have come together to organize #BlackinMarineScienceWeek. From November 29th- December 5th, we will host a variety of events amplifying the voices of Black marine scientist. All of our virtual events for the week will bring in our scientific identity and our Black history and culture as a way to facilitate discussions about race and initiate change in our field. For example, we will have discussions about how we keep our hair healthy while conducting field work in the ocean and how we obtained scientific techniques to study the ocean. We have events planned to encourage future scientist, particularly Black youth by exposure to the diversity of organisms and ecosystems we study.
During the week, we will show the international diversity of Black marine scientist but have time allotted to discuss one major uniter: systematic oppression and exclusion. Irrespective of our position, socioeconomic, or origin, we acknowledge the shared journey we have simply because of our skin color. We invite allies to listen to conversations about our research and interest as well as the barriers that impede or labor our upward mobility. We are using our voice to stop the culture of silence surrounding race in science and we will encourage all attendees to do the same by informing themselves and creating space for Black people in Marine Science.