Black Lives Matter — everywhere — including in our research environments and workplaces. However, the evidence demonstrates that the Fermilab community has not valued the lives, the work, and the imaginations of Black people for many years. We have a responsibility and an opportunity to help build a better community at Fermilab for everyone. Black physicists at Fermilab are calling for our entire physics community to take immediate action to value Black lives.
Accepting the responsibility of leadership on this matter, Black physicists have developed a set of calls to action, which you will find in the Change-Now Strategic Plan. This document is not aspirational. This document presents real solutions to address the significant challenges facing Black people at Fermilab. The calls to action described here are the minimum scale of investment for making real change.
If some of the calls to action may not be achievable in the current framework in which Fermilab operates, then the structure will need to change.
Black people are intersectional in their identities and are a part of many communities. We are not monolithic in our needs or beliefs. Furthermore, as Black scientists, the authors of this document only speak to their needs and from their perspectives. Black engineers, technicians, and non-technical staff may have other ideas and perspectives that must also be heard. Therefore, while this document is directed at the specific situation of scientists at Fermilab, we wish to work together with all stakeholders to elevate the lab community as a whole.
Fermilab was founded near the end of the mid-century Civil Rights Movement. The founders made a point of standing and acting in that moment to support Black people in science. Again, we can stand together and work again to put Fermilab at the forefront of recruitment, representation, and retention of Black scientists.
So many before …
February 23: Murder of Ahmaud Arbery
March 14: Murder of Breonna Taylor
May 25: Murder of George Floyd
May 27: Murder of Tony McDade
… so many since.
Black Lives Matter protests intensify and catalyze many other movements and efforts, including those in academia.
Harmful and racist message from Fermilab to employees.
#Strike4BlackLives and #ShutdownSTEM day announced.
Groups at Fermilab initiate plans to respond.
Authors develop strategy for Change — Now document in keeping with upcoming #Strike4BlackLives and #ShutdownSTEM, as well as ongoing Black Lives Matter events.
Laboratory management engages in listening session with Black community members.
Many of us share our disappointment and dismay with laboratory efforts and response to the Black Lives Matter protests.
Multiple Fermilab groups use the day to act for Black lives and generate ideas to improve Fermilab community.
Change — Now document presented to Fermilab Directorate.
Initial response received from the Directorate, as requested.
Response states support of the seven major elements and some specific calls to action.
This initiates a series of meetings with the Directorate.
Creation of new directorate position for a Chief Equity, Diversity, Inclusion Officer (related to a specific call for action in the Change — Now document).
The second date within the document.
Agreement with Directorate on terms of their public support for the Change Now document (forthcoming).
Presentation to all scientists of Change — Now document, including why to hire Black scientists, how to develop and execute shared leadership, and the meaning of accountability.
Web site release.
Build coalition and organize within the laboratory and across the physics community.