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In recent months, the world has changed. We have felt anger, fear, and deep sorrow as we grapple with two threats to humanity: the viral pandemic and the effects of systemic racism, discrimination, and inequities in policing and the criminal justice system. Both threats have affected communities of color disproportionately and have resulted in a national call to action. Both require attention to the deep-rooted systemic inequities in our communities.
When the coronavirus emerged, we recognized the threat. As the list of victims grew longer, we made plans to defeat it by creating new norms. We track its transmission, but we are daunted by its silent spread. As a result, we have created new systems we would not have thought possible three months ago. We have found ways to talk to our kids about it even when it is uncomfortable.
We have shown that we can work together to help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus. We must do the same and more to defeat racism and dismantle the long-standing systems of oppression, privilege, and power that cause disparities in health outcomes and how our criminal justice system works. The painfully long list of victims of systemic racism and police violence that has become even longer in recent months serves as a jolting reminder of the discrimination that Black men and women experience every day. Protests across the United States have rallied for systemic change, for all of us to interact with each other in dramatically different ways to defeat the threat.
We must do the hard work required individually and collectively to defeat racism and social injustice.
The Da Vinci Science Center’s mission is to bring science to life and lives to science. We are committed to working in partnership with our community to combat systemic racism and champion racial equity. Our local data shows that Black people have unequal access to opportunities in housing, employment, transportation, and education. This includes inequitable access to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) education. The Science Center believes that every person deserves this access and can make a valuable contribution to advance these fields. Black people have made significant contributions to scientific progress throughout time – people like Katherine Johnson, Mae Jemison, Percy Julian, Walter Lincoln Hawkins, Alexa Canady, and Gladys West. It is important that we communicate and celebrate these accomplishments to inspire others to do the same.
Black Lives Matter. Black people’s contributions to STEAM matter.
The Da Vinci Science Center is committed to creating a culture of diversity and inclusion, where everyone feels welcome and safe to fully participate in STEAM. All of us care deeply about the people we serve. As we consider our own role in a system that is not providing equal opportunities for people of color, we commit to the following actions to create meaningful change towards being a more inclusive organization and stopping the spread of racism in our community:
We know this is just the beginning, and there is much work to be done. We believe that education is a powerful tool to eliminate fear and create meaningful change. In partnership with the community, we can build new systems to promote equity that we didn’t think were possible, creating a community where all participate in and benefit from the opportunities available to Americans.
Children have many observations and questions, but it can be challenging to know where to start. Having a conversation about race and racism can be difficult as we ourselves struggle to make sense of the violence. Please see the links below for resources to help families talk with their children about race and racism.
A Multiracial community dedicated to raising a generation of kids who are thoughtful, informed and brave about race
Supporting Kids of Color in the Wake of Racialized Violence
Podcast from Embrace.org
Race: Are We So Different?
Minnesota Science Center Race Exhibition, includes the science and history of race
Talking to Kids About Race
A resource to help you start and continue the conversation about race and promote diversity and inclusiveness
Are Your Kids Too Young to Talk About Race?
An infographic from PrettyGoodDesign.org