(Originally written in June 2020 by Me’lani Labat Joseph as an official statement of the NeoSTEM Ecosystem)
Editor’s Note: As the trial for Derek Chauvin continues in Minneapolis, the lessons and reminders from the murder of George Floyd continue.
The largest lesson is that the work isn’t over. From Trayvon Marton to Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland to Breonna Taylor, black people are still being hunted down. Systemic racism permeates all layers of our society.
The NeoSTEM Ecosystem remains committed to working for equity in education.
In the days immediately after Floyd’s murder, Me’lani Labat Joseph, a long-time member of the NeoSTEM community and leadership, wrote a reflection.
We thought it was appropriate to share it now as yet another reminder of how our work must continue.
The North East Ohio STEM Ecosystem would like to acknowledge this unique and unprecedented time we are living in right now. We would first like to recognize how the coronavirus has completely disrupted our way of life, changed how we function as a local and global community, and turned a spotlight on the racial inequities that exist in our society.
Specifically, we are turning our attention to:
- The chronic health conditions and disproportionate negative health outcomes for Black people;
- Public education system ill-equipped to equitably convert to virtual learning, lack of access to digital connectivity;
- Lower stay-at-home employment options for Black Americans as compared with the majority population; and
- Increased stress and mental health strains and the fragility of Black businesses and entrepreneurs.
We secondly want to acknowledge the daily trauma and assaults that Black people encounter while living in the United States. The horrific murder of George Floyd by officer Derek Chauvin while three fellow Minneapolis police officers stood by and watched him die senselessly clearly illuminates the lack of value for Black life. The murder was brutal, hateful and racist.
The NEOSTEM Ecosystem condemns all violent and subtle forms of racism and hate. We believe Black Lives Matter.
While we represent a diverse array of local institutions and organizations, we stand strong as a collective group committed to relentlessly pursuing equal access of our programming. We recognize that STEM fields are grossly underrepresented by minority groups and that STEM literacy, proficiency and excellence can transform the life outcomes of individuals and their communities.
We can and must do better to create opportunities for Black students to have early and sustained access to STEM content and experiences. A moment is here to re-evaluate the way we do business and we invite you on that journey.
We are committed to approaching our work with greater intentionality and being vigilant about using a racial equity lens in all that we do. We are committed to renewing our efforts to make the world a better place for all humanity and not just a privileged few.
We are excited about the innovation of thought and action required to re-invent the future. Our children are depending on it, our communities are in desperate need for it and our world will be better for it.
Me’lani Labat Joseph – firstname.lastname@example.org
A firm helping organizations and institutions maximize their program development and implementation outcomes for youth and communities they serve and engage.