2 June 2020

AAS President Calls on All Members to Support Black Americans Now

Megan Donahue

Megan Donahue Michigan State Univ.

As AAS President, I wish to comment on the tragic and brutal murders of Black Americans Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor. As scientists, researchers, educators, and human beings we have a responsibility to respond, to see and name these injustices, and to empathize and acknowledge our different human experiences and reactions to these events. We stand together with our Black members, their students, and their families. We stand with our Black AAS employees and volunteers from whom we have asked so much during these difficult and challenging times.

The videotaped killing of George Floyd by a White police officer last week once again lays bare the truth of the United States’ ugly and painful history of slavery transformed into institutional racism. Mr. Floyd’s murder comes during a pandemic that has also exposed the impact of these historical inequities on the health of Black Americans — who have suffered roughly 25% of coronavirus-related deaths while accounting for only 13% of the US population.

On behalf of the AAS, I would like to express our unwavering support for those in our community who are rightfully concerned for their safety or that of their loved ones, and who have experienced or continue to experience bias and institutional racism in their personal or professional lives.

The AAS is committed to making a positive difference in the professional lives of our members. This commitment will be reaffirmed in our upcoming strategic plan, which will have diversity, equity, and inclusion at its core and woven throughout our priorities and plans as a Society.

Racism persists because many of us have refused to see it. Dispersed across the world, many of us isolated at home, we can barely comprehend the tragedies unfolding across the country and the world, but we know that the trauma of these tragedies will be felt most acutely by the marginalized. Let us reach out to each other, really see one another, and together build a better and more equitable world.

Megan Donahue
President, American Astronomical Society

Added 4 June by the AAS Executive Office: We have 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

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