As the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others cause nationwide anguish, millions of people have mobilized to fight for racial justice. I am glad to see that Chapman has issued statements and invited speakers and staff to address this movement and denounce continued violence against Black communities. However, while their words are important, they must be followed by tangible action to be meaningful.
I am part of a group of Goldwater Scholars, recognized nationally as current and future leaders in STEM. We have written an Open Letter and Call to Action further outlining the importance of the STEM community’s involvement in addressing systemic racism (within and beyond STEM). The letter introduces our #STEMforBLM donation campaign and provides a resource list that outlines suggested anti-racist action items for students and faculty, as well as a collection of books, peer-reviewed journal publications, articles, and media all centered on the intersection of race and science. I believe that these resources will help guide continuous commitment and action towards racial justice in the Schmid community.
Chapman represents a community of leaders, educators, and innovators who have an obligation to build an equitable and diverse future. We must actively confront the deeply-rooted anti-Blackness in our communities and workplaces. Being heavily involved in the science community myself, it has been easy to become preoccupied and develop a detached attitude towards the pressing issues that people battle every day. By doing so, we are perpetuating systemic racism as we are not taking direct action to eradicate anti-Black racism in academia, STEM, and in the world. We have many powerful and intelligent voices at Chapman, so I hope we can collectively use this momentum to bring about real change.
I encourage my peers, mentors, professors, and faculty members to take the time to read and digest these resources because it is our responsibility to be educated on these matters. Having this knowledge will help sculpt our role in breaking the anti-Black narratives that have become deeply ingrained in America.
Science has a legacy of racism. Continuing to downplay or ignoring these roots puts us at risk for fueling toxic power dynamics and injustice. We need to hold ourselves and each other accountable so that our voices can collectively be stronger than the systems of oppression that rule our society. Only then, can we begin to dismantle these very systems that robbed the lives of George Floyd and countless others of the Black community.
Edena Khoshaba is Chapman University’s first-ever Goldwater Scholar. As a senior biochemistry and molecular biology major, Edena has gained extensive research experience inside and outside of Chapman since her freshman year. She is heavily involved on campus and serves as a Student Scholar Ambassador, Vice President of the ASBMB chapter, Assistant Education Vice President of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority, and is an active member of the Schmid Student Leadership Council. After graduation, she plans to pursue her M.D./Ph.D. in Cancer Biology to lead a translational research laboratory for improving treatments and outcomes of pediatric cancer at an academic research hospital.