#ScienceLooksGood

Darius Simmons, Trayvon Martin and Barriers to STEM Diversity

Eyes of the Innocent

Why would a young child be interested in a field such as science where they will be consistently seen as "the other"? 

As an advocate for STEM, I'm always looking to get more folks involved in science. As a Black man, it feels the most rewarding to help contribute to more women and minorities involved in scientific disciplines.  The science space lacks gender and racial diversity, which can bring judgments, stereotypes, and reactions that are often not based on truth.  During my career journey, I've often had to worry about being the only Black person around. If I make a mistake, I have to worry about it being attributed to just me or to generalized perceptions of the Black community. 

 

Both Trayvon Martin and Darius Simmons were young, unarmed, Black teens that were murdered because of what they looked like. They were profiled as dangerous, regardless of their actual intentions, and they paid the ultimate price when confronted by someone who believed in the profile. 

It's important to realize that in the case of Trayvon, Darius, and numerous other youths, its the barrier to LIFE, not just diversity, that has proven to be impenetrable.  Just like other children who have lost their lives, we don't know what contribution to society they may have made. How many future scientists, presidents, historians, or artists are being eliminated? 

Why would a young child be interested in a field such as science where they will be consistently seen as "the other"?  Because the dream of America is to be a real melting pot, where individuals can truly succeed regardless of their background. America strives to be a place where fields such as science accurately represents the broad diversity of the population.

One thing is for sure - many activists are being created and emboldened by this horrible situation. Let's make a change. I know I won't stop reaching out to make sure that the STEM community is diverse as it can be. #ScienceLooksGood indeed.