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Time to Talk About Racism

Lab heads and senior scientists should engage in conversations about racism, writes Devang Mehta, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alberta, at Nature.

He says that many in the field seem to think there is little racism in science, though he points out recent instances of anti-Asian graffiti at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, where he received is PhD. Mehta adds that while there he saw other forms of racism, such as a professor saying all science from a certain country was bad in front of students from that country.

Mehta writes that he regrets not speaking up to superiors about these instances, and says he didn't because he "didn't want to rock the boat."

In part because of that, he says that the lead role for starting discussions about racism should come from above. "If the reluctance of junior researchers like me to talk about racism is regrettable, the silence, and hence complicity, of senior faculty members is unconscionable," Mehta says. "Scientists, as a community, must practice having tolerant conversations about intolerance, unconscious bias, unfair power structures, and a friendlier workplace for everyone."