Black Lives Matter Movement Comments and Thoughts
June 25, 2020 by Destenie Nock
As a note many of the resources here were sourced from the The INFORMS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, and the leadership of the INFORMS Minority Issues Forum
Many people have been asking about my thoughts on the Black Lives Matter Movement, and what I think people can do to help this movement. Below is a Statement and Resources in Support of Black Lives
George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Treyvon Martin are just a few of the latest in a centuries-long history of assault on Black and Indigenous lives in the United States. I am appalled and deeply saddened by the careless lack of humanity that precipitated the deaths of these individuals and countless others before them. I stand with the peaceful protesters who are doing the hard work of demanding change in a system whose inertia prioritizes the interests of the white majority to the catastrophic detriment of people of color. Data shows that 1,000 people were killed by police in 2019 in America. Data overwhelmingly and vehemently provides conclusive evidence that eight policies can decrease police killings by 72% (to learn more go to Campaign Zero or https://8cantwait.org). Over the course of the last 3 months students and I have been writing to local and federal legislators, and donating to and supporting these causes (8CantWait, and Campaign Zero). I encourage you to join me in these of one of the many suggestions in the list in the bottom half of this post. There are some people who still don't understand this cause, and to them I say...It could have been my dad...my husband...my brother...or me.
In a professional sense some colleagues might wonder why it is important to take a stand at this time. After all, the mathematicians and engineers in this world might feel like math does not discriminate. The models and methods permit we create allow us to make sense of the world, guide decision-making, and enable control in spite of uncertainty. However, the profession itself is not immune to racial, class, and systemic racism, classism, sexism, and basis. Systemic barriers from cradle to grave result in a disproportionate lack of engineers and mathematicians who are African American, Native American or Latinx. The composition of the people designing and developing the next technological revolutions reflects the historic tendency to restrict participation in the sciences to a privileged few.
As Martin Luther King said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." We all need to do our part to promote justice in our academic and professional fields. Together we can make great changes.
Here are some actions that you can take:
Educate yourself about systemic racism and bias
Visit Project Implicit to examine and reflect on your own implicit biases: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html
Watch a movie: Several streaming platforms and film studios are providing free online access to movies about racism in America this month.
Utilize this curated list of anti-racism resources, created by Anna Stamborski, Nikki Zimmermann, and Bailie Gregory, and widely circulated on social media.
Examine opportunities to infuse notions of social justice and equity into your everyday work.
Incorporate anti-racist pedagogy in your classroom.
Question whether your work or research agenda upholds equity principles.
Make a monetary contribution to organizations that fight for social justice.
Additional 75 things you can do.
This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, and there is plenty of additional research being conducted in best practices for inclusive pedagogy, and additional resources that would be of value to the broader community.
My last comment is to those saying the Black Lives Matter movement is too violent. When a movement is getting derailed we must ask, who is leading the violence? Is it those that desire change or those that want to distract? Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota said “We have reason to believe that bad actors continue to infiltrate the rightful protests of George Floyd’s murder...,” Also in New York "a senior police official said anarchists had planned to start mayhem in the city even before the protests started, using encrypted communication to raise bail money and to recruit medics. During the demonstrations, they maintained supply routes to distribute gasoline, rocks and bottles, and also dispatched scouts to find areas devoid of police officers, said John Miller, the deputy commissioner in charge of the Police Department’s counter-terrorism and intelligence efforts." Much more discussion on this in the New York times article. https://tinyurl.com/yaywhtlz
Note about the author: Destenie Nock is an Assistant Professor position in Engineering & Public Policy (EPP) Department as well as in the Civil & Environmental Engineering (CEE) at Carnegie Mellon University. While she is in the ivory tower of academia she is not immune to effects of racism and sexism. As she moves forward in her career she is doing her best to make sure her research does not perpetuate social imbalance, and works to reduce energy poverty. She holds a PhD in Industrial Engineering an Operations Research from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She earned two BS degrees in Electrical Engineering and Applied Math at North Carolina A&T State University.