Dear SMBE Members,
I am writing to you, on behalf of the entire SMBE Council, in response to the hateful acts of racism-fueled injustice and violence. The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor serve as painful reminders of hate and violence towards the Black community. Recent events in the US have brought long-entrenched structures of systemic racism to the forefront and have inspired demands for long overdue changes to these systems. As an international society, we are particularly grateful for the demonstration of solidarity exhibited by people in cities and countries all over the world-- underscoring the fact that racism is pernicious and intolerable, not just in the US but globally.
In addition to bringing police brutality and racism into sharp focus, the unjust oppression of Black Americans highlights the intersectionality of violence with social justice, public health disparities, environmental justice, and economic equality, even more broadly. The sizes of these problems are large, and our movements toward change must be even larger and swifter. Many people and organizations are re-priortizing or elevating the question: what can we do to fight intolerance, racism, and discrimination, now and in the future? In order to contribute to this collective goal, council members of SMBE have committed to enhance our efforts towards the following ongoing and new initiatives:
- diversifying the editorial boards of the society’s two flagship journals, Molecular Biology & Evolution and Genome Biology & Evolution, to achieve great representation of underrepresented groups
- supporting the participation of underrepresented groups in the yearly meeting of the society via travel and carer awards
- partnering with other organizations and institutions in order to better recruit, serve, and retain a diverse SMBE membership that includes more members from underrepresented groups
- forming a diversity and inclusivity committee that will focus on programming during yearly meetings and year-round to promote equity and inclusion for all members of the society
- re-evaluating the criteria for faculty awards, currently focused on one-dimensional definitions of excellence, in order to expand the recognition of leaders in our field
Furthermore, we commit to not only sharing these goals publicly, but to reporting on progress towards meeting them each year at the annual meeting.
Neither this statement, nor our future actions as a scientific society, can undo the undeserved brutality, oppression, and discrimination faced by Black Americans, or faced more broadly by racial and ethnic groups historically and today, worldwide. But SMBE exists within a broader society-- a global community of scientists-- and our future actions can be impactful. We are committed to reflecting on these recent events, recognizing systems of injustice globally, re-evaluating past practice and procedures within the Society and its journals, and working on developing new structures to promote the ideals of diversity, equity, and inclusion that are essential to the success of science and society.
On behalf of the Council,
Marta L. Wayne