#ShutDownSTEM #ShutDownAcademia STEM and academia are not immune to anti-black racism. Let's press pause for one day. Let's give Black colleagues space to rest. For the rest of us, it's time to step up.

Message honoring #ShutDownSTEM movement:

On Wednesday, June 10, 2020, we honored the nationwide academic strike #ShutDownSTEM to reflect and address racism in STEM. This is a day for Black scholars to take a day to rest from systemic oppression and for others to reflect and identify actionable items to eliminate racism in STEM. Academia needs to reflect honestly on the ways that we continue to perpetuate oppression, barriers, and exclusion. We encourage you to read through the actionable items, resources, and the letter from Black Physicist, Dr. Brian Nord included below.

We value diversity in STEM and strive to one day achieve equity in STEM. However, we have a long way to go. We are taking this opportunity to acknowledge our own underrepresentation of Black faculty across all disciplines at the University of Arizona and share sobering numbers. Per UAIR’s Interactive Fact Book on Faculty Demographics in 2019:

  • Only 54 out of 3,212 faculty are Black (1.68% of all faculty) - a decrease of 7 since 2018
  • Only 1 out of 137 academic department heads are Black
  • And 0 out of 157 non-tenure track research faculty are Black (compared to 3 out of 181 in 2018)

Yet, the Black community in the U.S. makes up 13.4% of the population (per Census.gov). Note: UArizona does not disaggregate the data by discipline, so it’s impossible to report how many of the 54 are STEM faculty.

We can and must do better.

Below are suggested action items for tomorrow. We have also provided space further below to collect information to present to deans and senior leadership.

Suggested action items for June 10th:

  1. Join #ShutDownSTEM on Wednesday put work aside, learn about others’ experiences, and to consider and discuss how STEM and academia can work to eradicate systemic racism in STEM.
  2. Utilize the following auto-response for your email, “On June 10th, I am honoring the nationwide #ShutDownSTEM movement to take time to educate myself and learn about actionable goals to move towards a just, equitable, and inclusive STEM academy.”
  3. Read existing resources on steps to take to achieve racial equity in STEM. See suggested resources below.
  4. Do not put the burden on Black colleagues to explain racism in STEM. Please utilize the resources below and reflect.
  5. Create a list of actions you can take in your own units and departments. Advocate for tangible change inside and outside of the academy.
  6. See the list of example actions to take to further the cause of ending global anti-blackness
  7. Discuss what you’ve read with colleagues to make STEM more inclusive of Black scholars.
  8. Find ways to be proactively anti-racist.
  9. Donate to organizations that fight racial injustice such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense Fund, the United Negro College Fund, and the National Black Justice Coalition,
  10. Celebrate Black STEM professionals by following #BlackinSTEM
  11. Consider reading about others’ experiences about being Black in academia by following on Twitter #BlackintheIvory, #microaggressions, and #subtleracism


  1. Astrobetter’s website on Equal Opportunity Astronomy - Includes studies on underrepresentation in STEM, studies questioning the validity of the GRE as a predictor for success, barriers to faculty diversity, race and white privilege, racial equity tools, and much more.
  2. Reading suggestions on how does anti-Black racism show up in academia: shutdownstem.com/racism-in-academia
  3. ShutDownSTEM’s listing of existing compilations
  4. The article, “Being Antiracist” on the website of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
  5. An article from UArizona’s own Dr. Michael Johnson, mSphere of Influence: Hiring of Underrepresented Minority Assistant Professors in Medical School Basic Science Departments Has a Long Way To Go
  6. #BlackBirdersWeek organizer shares her struggles as a black scientist
  7. Showing Up for Racial Justice

Also, please take time to read a powerful letter from Black physicist, Dr. Brian Nord, posted at https://www.particlesforjustice.org/letterillustrating the experience and frustration in STEM academia of Black scholars.

Space to Contribute Thoughts, Stories, Comments, and Suggestions

Our nation is going through a pivotal moment to address and confront racism against the Black community. The STEM Learning Center is honoring the nationwide #ShutDownSTEM movement on Wednesday, June 10, 2020 to reflect and address racism in STEM. We are collecting your stories and experiences that have previously been unheard or ignored to create an archive that we will share with STEM deans and senior leadership. Your story will be shared anonymously unless you choose to include your name below.