Update #1 10/14/13: Biology online has apologized and fired the mysterious Ofek. And Scientific American has released an official explanation which is also B.S.
Underrepresented minorities within the scientific community, such as African Americans and/or women, often bear a burden of perceived illegtimacy within science. My life is littered with remarks of how I could possibly be a successful scientist when I came from a inner city background. Our passion for what we do drives us to push on despite a general culture that makes us feel like we don't belong in an area that we love.
Danielle Lee of Scientific American's The Urban Scientist blog is an amazing scientist and blogger who was unfortunately the victim of terrible remarks. I'd like to share her words with you. Please tweet her (@DNLee5) some words of encouragement with the hashtag #StandingWithDNLee.
Ofek from Biology-Online.org, you've official been called out. We won't stand for your ilk. Disrespect is unacceptable.
DNLee's blog post is below, reprinted in its entirety with her permission.
wachemshe hao hao kwangu mtapoa
I got this wrap cloth from Tanzania. It’s a khanga. It was the first khanga I purchased while I was in Africa for my nearly 3 month stay for field research last year. Everyone giggled when they saw me wear it and then gave a nod to suggest, “Well, okay”. I later learned that it translates to “Give trouble to others, but not me”. I laughed, thinking how appropriate it was. I was never a trouble-starter as a kid and I’m no fan of drama, but I always took this 21st century ghetto proverb most seriously:
Don’t start none. Won’t be none.
For those not familiar with inner city anthropology – it is simply a variation of the Golden Rule. Be nice and respectful to me and I will do the same. Everyone doesn’t live by the Golden Rule it seems. (Click to embiggen.)
The Blog editor of Biology-Online dot org asked me if I would like to blog for them. I asked the conditions. He explained. I said no. He then called me out of my name.
My initial reaction was not civil, I can assure you. I’m far from rah-rah, but the inner South Memphis in me was spoiling for a fight after this unprovoked insult. I felt like Hollywood Cole, pulling my A-line T-shirt off over my head, walking wide leg from corner to corner yelling, “Aww hell nawl!” In my gut I felt so passionately:”Ofek, don’t let me catch you on these streets, homie!”
This is my official response:
It wasn’t just that he called me a whore – he juxtaposed it against my professional being: Are you urban scientist or an urban whore? Completely dismissing me as a scientist, a science communicator (whom he sought for my particular expertise), and someone who could offer something meaningful to his brand. What? Now, I’m so immoral and wrong to inquire about compensation? Plus, it was obvious me that I was supposed to be honored by the request..
After all, Dr. Important Person does it for free so what’s my problem? Listen, I ain’t him and he ain’t me. Folks have reasons – finances, time, energy, aligned missions, whatever – for doing or not doing things. Seriously, all anger aside…this rationalization of working for free and you’ll get exposure is wrong-headed.This is work. I am a professional. Professionals get paid. End of story. Even if I decide to do it pro bono (because I support your mission or I know you, whatevs) – it is still worth something. I’m simply choosing to waive that fee. But the fact is I told ol’ boy No; and he got all up in his feelings. So, go sit on a soft internet cushion, Ofek, ’cause you are obviously all butt-hurt over my rejection. And take heed of the advice on my khanga.