Awareness of climate change disproportionately affecting Black people isn’t enough

‘The Black climate agenda is about more than just representation.’

Vox wrote a piece on the Black climate agenda:

Tamara Toles O’Laughlin is one of the best-known advocates for what she calls the “Black climate agenda”: a movement that seeks to correct the failures of the climate movement to include Black people and that wants to see racial justice at the center of climate policy conversations.

A lifelong environmental activist, Toles O’Laughlin is the former director of the North American region of 350.org,an international environmental organization founded in 2007 that uses a grassroots approach to build support for ending fossil fuels.

The Black climate agenda is about more than just representation. It’s about equity and righting the wrongs that have been done in the past to make a just future possible. In her vision, the agenda should include policies like climate reparations that address the disproportionate impact climate change has had on Black communities, as well as Indigenous people and other communities of color.

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein discussing ‘The Disordered Cosmos’ on NPR’s Short Wave

Buy the book!

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is a theoretical physicist at the University of New Hampshire, specializing in questions about the earliest parts of the universe. As a physicist, it’s her job to ask deep questions about how we — and the rest of the universe — got to this moment.

Her new book, The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred does exactly that. It’s an examination of the science that underpins our universe and how the researchers seeking to understand the universe shaping us, in turn shape the science.

(via NPR)

Find Your Bind is an app for readers to find books written by authors of colour

Naomi Adeniji and Wumi Obi are going places.

The app was created by Naomi Adeniji and Wumi Obi aiming to connect readers with books by authors of colour and show the world and its true racial diversity.

Reflecting on their project, Naomi and Wumi said:

“Irish society has become increasingly diverse yet there remain direct and indirect barriers to full ethnic equality. Our diverse culture should be celebrated, and we felt it was time to promote our BIPOC authors to a wider audience.

“Though we encountered many challenges along the way the Teen-Turn programme has helped us to build our self-confidence and pursue a career in STEM.

“Teen-Turn gave us the opportunity to explore our passion for an inclusive Ireland, and through this programme, we have moved another step forward to making it a reality”.

(via Dublin People)

NASA’s history of astronauts of colour including Dr. Bernard A. Harris Jr. and Dr. Mae Jemison

Dr. Bernard A. Harris Jr. became the first Black person to walk in space back in 1995.

Kristen Rogers looked at the people of colour involved in NASA’s history for CNN.

As a Black boy growing up in the Navajo Nation, Dr. Harris — now a retired NASA astronaut — said he found his passion for space when he admired the stars in the sky above him in that “magical land of grand canyons and painted deserts,” where his mother worked as an educator for the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs. “And I was inspired when I saw Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed,” he added. “I said, ‘I want to do that.’”

Harris ultimately did reach similar heights: After earning his medical degree with the intent to — as he put it — “somehow, by hook or crook, find my way to NASA,” he ultimately became one of the 23 NASA astronaut applicants accepted from a pool of nearly 2,000 qualified applicants in 1990. In 1995, Harris became the first African American and Black person of any nationality to walk in space.

Urban Coders Guild are empowering their students to digitally rebuild Tulsa’s Black Wall Street

The non-profit organisation is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma and provides STEM education to middle and high school students from underrepresented communities.

“While a good many of the businesses were rebuilt after the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, none of them exist today,” says Mikeal Vaughn, founder and executive director of Urban Coders Guild, a nonprofit organization providing STEM education opportunities to underrepresented communities in Tulsa.

So the students are reimagining what they would look like today by building the websites. Along the way, they are learning coding skills and learning about a historic event that has only recently been talked about in mainstream media.

(via The 74)

Black women made $0.90 for every $1 a white man in the same tech role made last year

A ~3.45% increase on last year’s figure

Via Hired’s latest report on wage inequality in the workplace.

That’s an improvement. In 2019, she would have made 87 cents. Back in 2016, that would have been 79 cents.

Black men made 89 cents in 2020, which represents a slight decline from the 2019 average.

Overall, companies offered men higher salaries for the same role than women nearly 60 percent of the time in 2020, down from 65 percent in 2019.

I’d be interested to know the figures for Black trans and non-binary people (if they existed).

Science Shouldn’t Come at the Expense of Black Lives

Science should help, not hinder.

Davi Pereira Junior and LOGiCFACE fave Chanda Prescod-Weinstein wrote a piece for Scientific American on the exploitation of Black people for science, centred on the land displacement of Quilombolas in Brazil for the sake of space travel:

As with the debate about the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, the discussion about quilombo land rights and dignity is being framed as a discussion of science versus tradition. Alcântara is an ideal space launch site because it is on the equator, where Earth’s rotation gives rockets an extra velocity boost. In addition, Alcântara is a region that has traditionally been economically underresourced in the global capitalist economy. As with the debate about TMT, the argument goes that science is a hallowed activity and the region can benefit economically from the expansion of the Alcântara launch pad. However, as one of us argued with Keolu Fox in the Nation, the setup of science versus tradition or religion is a false juxtaposition. 

Imperial College London to launch a mentoring scheme for Black students

The scheme is said to cost around £20m.

A NEW mentoring scheme will be launched at the Imperial College London to tackle the under-representation of black students.

The scheme will offer a £5m scholarship to offer to a new intake of students as part of a wider £20m diversity scheme.

Figures show that out of more than 10,000 undergraduates at Imperial, only 235 are black. The university, one of the world’s top science institutions, says that it wants to at least double that number.

(via The Voice)

Charlton D. McIlwain on Black digital activists

People thought the internet would be more open for all races but even before that, technology has been used to oppress Black people. But they’ve always found a way to fight back.

With permission from Oxford University Press, Yes Magazine published an excerpt from Academic and author Charlton D. McIlwain’s book, Black Software: The Internet & Racial Justice, from the AfroNet to Black Lives Matter.

While I don’t have permission to do the same, I’m going to copy this excerpt from the copied excerpt. Call it Blaception:

[…] I no longer contented myself to find the roots of today’s digitally enabled, racial justice activism. The fact that I had myself encountered a whole group of people whom our internet, computing, and media histories had never known—much less remembered—led me to ask a more fundamental question. What is, and has been, Black people’s relationship to the internet and computing technology?

That’s when I discovered a more sobering story. The story should not have been surprising, given America’s racist history. Nonetheless, it was a chilling story to resurrect. That story was laid bare in civil rights, computer industry, higher education institution, and state and federal government archives, and periodicals from a bygone era. The story I found there I call “Black software.”

Trump may be out of the White House and there may be a Black woman as Vice President now but there is still a lot of work to do and Black Lives Still Matter, online and offline.

See also: A Black internet timeline, 17 Black STEM books for kids, and the first Black female engineer.

7 Blerds from history

STEM (science, tech, engineering, and mathematics) owes a great deal to Black pioneers. Here are 7 of them.

Through the hard work and tenacity of Blerds (Black nerds), we have home security systems, blood transfusions, refrigeration systems, and even GIFs.

In this article, I took a brief look at 7 such figures. Blerds unite!

1. Frederick McKinley Jones

Jones was a Black American inventor and winner of the National Medal of Technology who made significant contributions to the world of refrigeration. Ever heard of the Thermo King? That was his invention.

2. Window Snyder

9 November 2017; Window Snyder, CSO, Fastly, on the FullSTK Stage during day three of Web Summit 2017 at Altice Arena in Lisbon. Photo by Cody Glenn/Web Summit via Sportsfile

Window Snyder is a cybersecurity expert who has worked for the likes of Apple, Microsoft, Intel and Mozilla Corporation. She also co-wrote Threat Modeling, a “straightforward and practical guide” that outlines “the concepts and goals for threat modeling—a structured approach for identifying, evaluating, and mitigating risks to system security”.

Synder has also provided keynote speeches at HITBSecConf, Open Source Summit, and the Women in Tech Symposium.

3. Angela Benton

Angela Benton is an influential figure in tech, promoting diversity in the industry and helping minority-led tech companies raise venture capital. That vital work has won her a plethora of accolades including:

  • TheRoot 100 in 2010, 2011, and 2012
  • Ebony Magazine’s Power 150 in 2011 and 2012
  • Fast Company’s Most Influential Women In Technology
  • Business Insiders’ 25 Most Influential African-Americans in Technology
  • Goldman Sachs’ 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs

Benton is best known for launching NewME, a startup accelerator for minority founders. It was the first program of its kind in the US, and has helped founders generate more than $47m in funding.

4. Dr. Marc Regis Hannah

The first movie I ever saw in 3D was Terminator 2 and Dr. Marc Regis Hannah played a major part in making that happen.

He worked at Silicon Graphics Inc. for 16 years where he was one of the co-founders, developing 3D special effects systems used in films like Terminator 2 and in scientific settings. That alone makes him one of the most influential and unsung heroes of modern cinema.

5. Shirley Ann Jackson

Shirley Ann Jackson is a Black American woman of firsts. She was the first African-American woman to have earned a doctorate at MIT and the second African-American woman in the US to earn a doctorate in physics. In 1995, President Clinton made her Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and in 1999, she became the 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Her research led to advancements in the fields of quantum physics, having worked at CERN and AT&T Bell Laboratories.

6. Lisa Gelobter

GIF or JIF? No matter how you pronounce it, Lisa Gelobter was instrumental in its creation. The computer scientist was heavily involved in the development of video on the internet and helped to create the team behind the graphics interchange format or GIF.

Gelobter is now the CEO of tEQuitable, a tech company that focuses on inclusivity in the workplace by providing safe platforms to address discrimination. She also worked under the Obama adminsitration in various roles including the U.S. Digital Service where she contribute to the redesign and improvement of Healthcare.gov.

7. Roy Clay

Born in Missouri in 1929, Roy Clay Sr. is best known as being a founding member of Hewlett-Packard’s computer division. But before that, he grew up in the segregated South and battled racism in his early life, as he recounted in an essay for Mercury News:

I think of how close I came to being Michael Brown.

Fortunately, I survived my encounter with the Ferguson police. But it says a great deal that young Mr. Brown will not have the opportunity I had to attend college, build a career and raise a family. Hopefully, my story will help explain why that makes us all the poorer.

On one hot August day, I stopped to order a soft drink from the grocery store. I was not permitted to consume the drink inside the store, so I sat on the curb outside. A Ferguson police car drove up and the officers stepped out to ask what I was doing there. I told them that I stopped on my way home from work.

I was handcuffed, placed in the rear seat, and driven for approximately a mile, to the intersection of the city of Kinloch. The car stopped as many thoughts were going through my mind, including the fact that a body of water, called Baileys Pond, was at that location. I envisioned the worst, including how I would escape if I were taken toward the water.

He later became director of the team that created one of HP’s first mini-computers, the HP 2116A and developed initiatives to improve the racial diversity in Silicon Valley to allow more Black coders to join.

After leaving HP in 1971, Clay got involved in politics and was elected Vice Mayor of Palo Alto in 1976.

Dr. Anne-Marie Imafidon on STEM and her ‘Stemettes’

Mathematician, computer scientist, and co-founder of Stemettes Dr. Anne-Marie Imafidon spoke to Bustle about her work with young girls and the best guidance she’s ever gotten.

We don’t hear enough about Black mathematicians, especially Black British female mathematicians. So my eyes widen when I saw this interview with Dr. Anne-Marie Imafidon.

You may know Anne-Marie as the London schoolgirl who became one of the youngest people to pass an A-level examination when she gained an E in Computing and a D in Maths (AS Level) at the age of 11.

Now, she’s the co-founder of a mentoring program called Stemettes:

While most of the world was struggling to adjust to stay-at-home orders in March, British mathematician Anne-Marie Imafidon was already settled into her year of JOMO (Joy Of Missing Out). Imafidon, who’s the co-founder of Stemettes, a mentoring program that encourages girls to practice mathematics, science, and computing through fun and free activities, had planned to spend 2020 staying home and develop initiatives for young women and girls in STEM. During lockdown, she ran a series of online events — Instagram Lives, YouTube Lives, and a role model Q&A — before launching a virtual summer school.

In her Bustle interview, she discussed the young girls she mentors, the best and worst advice she’d ever received (“I don’t think any advice is bad, because it’s from that person’s perspective.”), and her advice for young women in STEM.

Read the interview on Bustle.

17 Black STEM books for kids

This list of 17 non-fiction books school-age children showcase the Black scientists and inventors that have enriched STEM for decades.

Vanessa Willoughby of School Library Journal compiled a list of 17 non-fiction books that spotlight Black scientists, thinkers, and inventors. We welcome any content that promotes Black people in STEM, especially when it involves educating children to that fact.

As a preface to the list, Willoughby discussed the misrepresentation of marginalised people in STEM and the alarming rate with which Black and Latinx students were dropping out of STEM courses. While a report which analysed these figures couldn’t find a root cause, Willoughby suggested white privilege as one.

The #BlackinSTEM hashtag on Twitter seems to back up this theory, which not only aims to promote the visibility of Black academics in STEM but to call out the racism and microaggressions Black STEM students and professionals experience […] Racism is rooted in the dehumanizing idea that a community or group of people are a monolith; these books show that Black people have always been integral to the intellectual landscape of this country and the scientific community at large.

I strongly suggest you read Willoughby’s article in full and grab some of the books from her list if you can.