Highlighting "The GEOSness" of Black Scientists: A Week to Remember

Samuel Cornelius Nyarko, Ph.D. and Munira Raji, Ph.D.

The solution to me is simple. If you really believe in representation and diversity and you think lack of Qualified Black Scholar is the cause, "shoot me your specs" and I will offer you a Qualified Black Scholar INSTANTLY. You have hidden agenda against us based on color, and this is VERY SHAMEFUL -Unknown

Have you heard the theory that "diversity in knowledge creation is the closest we can go to achieve accurate knowledge"? The experiences and knowledge of minority people have been the recent mantra in the geosciences for almost every education mission, goal, and community actions that seek to promote community practice and literacy. As educators and scientists, we should always strive to promote learning engagements that enhance diversity, equity, and inclusive practices. My engagement with several geoscience educators make me believe there are a lot of people within this spectrum because they believe [presumably] in constructivism and meaningful learning. Anyway, constructivism is "knowledge creation through meaningful experiences" and meaningful learning experiences "are those that facilitate the integration of related new knowledge into what is already meaningful to them [the learner]". Constructivists and cognitive scientists emphasize that the process of long-term memory makes it difficult for a single individual to hold accurate knowledge of concepts which makes a lot of sense in the realm of nature of science. Simply put, consider other or alternative sources of knowledge in your decision making either as a leader or follower. however, we still have less Black people in Geoscience departments, faculties, and awards, there is still just one Black Geoscience Professor/Faculty member in the whole of the UK, less Black students in our departments and faculties, and less than 4% of all geoscience research come from Africa and Black researchers.

The 2021 Black in Geoscience Week was held virtually on social media on 6-12th September. The themes and activities for the event were remarkable, dispelling the misconception that there are not just enough qualified "Black people" in Geosciences. We had an incredible number of participants for the #BlackInGeoscienceRollCall from Black Geoscientists from every aspect of the Geosciences that included Climate Sciences, Earth Sciences, Environmental Science, Space and Atmospheric Sciences, Geography and Education and from a Black Geoscientist that was getting ready to travel to space. Themes and panel discussions for the week centered around climate change, sustainability, geological hazards and resources, geothermal energy, and leadership because inequalities in society exacerbate the environmental impact of climate change on marginalized communities. The majority of our moderators, panelists were Black Women from diverse backgrounds, regions and geoscience disciplines who volunteered their time to passionately share their expertise during the panel discussions with the BlackInGeoscience community. Listening to the perspectives of these Black scientists and educators was so refreshing and you could see the diversity in the knowledge being shared even from the same racial group. Though these discussions were online, you could feel them directly in your face listening to the Black perspective. The knowledge and language were passionate, global, and accurate. The Black In Geoscience created a vibrant virtual space to connect, increase visibility and showcase the expertise of Black geoscientists. For two years now, we came together to organize the #BlackInGeoscienceWeek as a volunteer-led event, made a huge impact and demonstrated that intentional actions by individuals can achieve a greater goal.

As an ally committed to tackling racism, we encourage you to take steps that would ensure Black Geoscientists are treated fairly in your organizations and within the geoscience community. Recognize and address unconscious biases and invisible barriers and raise awareness of opportunities so that Black Geoscientists can have access to the same opportunities afforded to their White colleagues. Appreciate the work of the Black Geoscientists and give it equal attention and visibility you would give other Geoscientists. Black Geoscientists are less likely to be funded by major funding organizations because our expertise is usually underestimated, use your privilege to advocate for us. We are your colleagues, classmates, teammates, team leaders, collaborators, and we want you to acknowledge and engage with us as such and not as victims. Provide the same level of support and attentiveness to the Black students in your class and be intentional about equal representations. We look forward to organizing the next #BlackInGeoscienceWeek in 2022.

Advertisement