4 June 2020

AAS Divisions Condemn Institutional Racism

Richard Fienberg

Richard Fienberg Running Hare Observatory

On 2 June AAS President (now Past-President) Megan Donahue issued a statement in which she commented on the recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor and reaffirmed the Society's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and to AAS members who are marginalized. The leaders of several of the Society's topical Divisions have over the last few days issued related statements. These follow below. Note that the statement from the Division for Planetary Sciences includes a link to "Actionable Steps to Make Our Community More Equitable."

We have also posted to the AAS YouTube channel a relevant plenary lecture from the virtual 236th AAS meeting held 1-3 June 2020: "The Inclusion Revolution" by Dara J. Norman (NSF's NOIRLab); running time is 49 minutes.

Dara Norman Plenary Lecture at AAS 236


AAS Division on Dynamical Astronomy (DDA)

At this critical moment, the DDA Committee acknowledge and condemn acts of violence perpetrated upon black Americans and upon those lawfully protesting their treatment. Such acts of violence affect our entire community, but particularly our black colleagues. The Committee express our wholehearted support for members that are concerned for their own safety and that of their loved ones. The DDA and its leadership are committed to providing a community that is inclusive, and we will continue to work to improve the conditions in our field for black dynamicists as well as those from other marginalized groups.

Sent by the officers and committee of the DDA by unanimous consent.

AAS Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS)

Message from the DPS Leadership:

The horrific events of the last few days, including the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the long history of violence inflicted on Black people, and the pain caused to Black members of the planetary science community, are intolerable. Systemic racism is in fundamental opposition to human decency and the core values of the AAS’s Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS). The DPS strives to be a supportive, equitable, and inclusive home for the greater planetary science community. We affirm our commitment to the principle that Black lives matter and to building a professional society that is safe, welcoming, and will not tolerate racism on any basis. The DPS leadership is here to stand with and support our community; we must do the work to create a better future. The DPS PCCS [Professional Culture & Climate Subcommittee] has created a living list of actions that we and our members can take to make our community more equitable (https://dps.aas.org/Inclusivity).

AAS High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD)

The High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society condemns racist violence against Black Americans and, especially, the recent horrific deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. We condemn acts of violence directed at protesters exercising their First Amendment right to peaceably assemble to protest injustice. We stand firmly committed to and in support of all those in our community, especially our Black and non-majority members, who have suffered from the effects of implicit and explicit acts of racism and violence.  It is the guiding principle of our Division, and the Society to which we belong, to work to ensure that all our members, colleagues, friends, neighbors, and families can live and prosper in a community free of any form of discrimination or harassment. Those of us in positions of privilege recognize our responsibility and power to eliminate bias and discrimination based on racial, gender, ethnic, orientation, and religious differences. We strongly affirm the AAS President’s statement, and as she said, “Let us reach out to each other, really see one another, and together build a better and more equitable world.” We issue this statement to reaffirm our commitment to all HEAD members from underrepresented groups, and extend our support to anyone struggling in this moment. Please reach out to the HEAD leadership with any concerns or ideas that can strengthen our community in support of these efforts.


Dr. Fiona Harrison, Chair
Dr. Randall Smith, Vice-Chair
Dr. Robert Petre, Past Chair
Dr. Frits Paerels, Treasurer
Dr. Michael Corcoran, Secretary
Dr. Gabriela Gonzalez, Committee Member
Dr. Laura Brenneman, Committee Member
Dr. Alexander van der Horst, Committee Member
Dr. Erin Kara, Committee Member
Dr. Eileen Meyer, Committee Member
Dr. Ryan Hickox, Committee Member

For the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society

AAS Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD)

To all of our colleagues:

The Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) is in full and strong support of the stand against institutional racism. We draw your attention to the statement by AAS President, Megan Donahue, issued yesterday, 2 June 2020.


The Executive Committee of the Laboratory Astrophysics Division

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