Like the rest of the nation and the world, we are horrified and angered by the racist killings that have taken place recently and in the past. We mourn the loss of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and others at the hands of the police and the system that allows such injustices. We say our mission is to educate, build knowledge, and serve as a repository for the planet’s biodiversity, but that goal will necessarily fall short if we continue to do nothing to root out systemic racism. We cannot educate when we have a society which does not treat all of its members as human. We cannot build knowledge when overt and unconscious biases are unacknowledged and unaccountable. And we cannot be responsible stewards and researchers of the biodiversity collections we hold dear if trust does not exist between the science institutions and the society we serve. This includes the indigenous peoples whose land in which we often conduct our fieldwork. This much is clear– we need to change, we need to change society, we need to do better.
As part of a diverse community of scientists, educators, curators, volunteers, and staff at the Berkeley Natural History Museums, we want to publicly acknowledge these stark truths and commit to working for anti-racism. We recognize that science is a practice of and by people, and thus is not immune to the same racist biases we see in the greater society. We want to have those uncomfortable conversations about how we may not see where prejudices lie instead of patting ourselves on the back for when we do act appropriately. We want to have open conversations to make transparent our historic flaws and potential future mistakes so we can acknowledge and correct them. It starts and ends with Black Lives Matter.
This is still a very raw time; but as a consortium, in our home museums, workplaces and personal lives we are seeking ways to make change. We start by educating ourselves and listening to our minority students, colleagues and neighbors. We are pledging our commitment to anti-racism. Please stay posted as we make changes and please stay safe.
On behalf of the Berkeley Natural History Museum community,
Michelle Koo, Chair of Informatics Committee
(MVZ Staff Curator)
Charles Marshall, Chair
Please consider signing as a member of UC Berkeley:
By Robin E. Bell and Lisa White
May 8, 2020