News Archive

Statement of Support for Racial and Social Justice

June 05, 2020

The world is witnessing yet another disturbing episode in the centuries-long struggle for racial harmony and social justice in the United States. Since its establishment, the nation has pursued the principles of equality espoused in its founding documents. And though progress has been borne of a long and arduous journey furthered by activism and sacrifice, recent incidents, including the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, serve as evidence that equality remains an aspiration rather than a reality for African Americans.

Sigma Xi is committed to building an equitable and inclusive scientific and engineering community for all persons without regard to ethnicity, race, creed, cultural backgrounds, gender identity, national origin, physical disability, religious affiliation, or sexual orientation. These goals are undermined by a society that disadvantages and discriminates against people of color. We recognize that racism against African Americans and other minorities that manifests in violent ways contributes to their underrepresentation among the STEM student population and workforce. Similar institutional biases may also explain the underrepresentation within Sigma Xi’s own membership. Therefore, we have a responsibility to advocate for equity and inclusivity in all segments of society and call for systemic changes to end racial discrimination. 

Sigma Xi has prioritized, in its strategic plan, the cultivation of a diverse and inclusive community in all research sectors: academic, industry, and government. Given that we value everyone's contributions to research in a spirit of fairness and justice, we declare that members of the African American community are needed in science and engineering. In short, Black lives matter to research and all aspects of society. 

For Sigma Xi to fulfill its mission of strengthening the research community, we must reach beyond the scientific enterprise to engage all people. We reach out today to acknowledge that recent circumstances leading to the deaths of three African Americans were motivated by racial discrimination and prejudice. These cases, and others involving African American citizens who have suffered while birdwatching, while occupying their own home, and even while attending a religious service, illustrate the need for all citizens to take a stand against racism.  

To this end, we pledge to elevate the conversation about racism and discrimination within the research community. We will listen and learn about the ways Sigma Xi can contribute to a more equitable society. We fully expect this conversation and the actions that emerge from it to extend beyond the research enterprise. There is much more work to do. We are prepared to take the necessary steps to create an environment conducive to the zealous pursuit of research opportunities for all


Geraldine Richmond signatureGeraldine Richmond
President, Sigma Xi

Sonya SmithSonya Smith,
President-elect, Sigma Xi

Jamie Vernon signatureJamie Vernon
Executive Director and CEO, Sigma Xi

Continuing the Conversation

The Kansas City Sigma Xi Chapter, in partnership with Linda Hall Library, is continuing the conversation about how to build an inclusive STEM community, particularly in academia, by hosting Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer Robbin Chapman for a free, online live stream lecture on June 8: Rendering the Invisible Visible: Student Success in Exclusive STEM Environments. Chapman will discuss the roles that academic institutions, STEM disciplines, and faculty-communities have played in contributing to inequitable student outcomes. 

Statements from Other Scientific Organizations

Because this is an issue that affects all scientific and engineering organizations and requires attention and cooperation from all, we are sharing a sample of statements from other organizations.

Scientists as Citizens: Aspiring to the Best of All of Us
By Engineers & Scientists Acting Locally 

Standing Against Racial Injustice
by Ciencia Puerto Rico

Statement On Social and Racial Justice, Inclusion and Equity
by The Association of Zoos and Aquariums

U.S. Scientific Societies Condemn Racism in the Wake of George Floyd Death
By Physics World, linking to statements from the National Society of Black Physicists, the American Physical Society, American Astronomical Society, and the American Meteorological Society 

Presidential Statement on Police Killings of Black People
By the American Educational Research Association

AAAS CEO Comments on Social Unrest, Racism, and Inequality
By the American Association for the Advancement of Science 

The Geosciences Community Needs to Be More Diverse and Inclusive
By Leaders of the American Geophysical Union 

ACS Statement on the Killing of George Floyd
By the American Chemical Society 

Statement by EDF President Fred Krupp on the Killing of George Floyd
By Environmental Defense Fund

An Open Letter from Our Director
By Morehead Planetarium and Science Center

Related Reading

"We Do Science Here": Underrepresented Students' Interactions with Faculty in Different College Contexts 
From The Journal of Social Issues, 2011

Being a Black Academic in America
From The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

Diversity Resources from Sigma Xi and American Scientist

The Power of Diversity
Statement on Diversity and Recent Events in Charlottesville, Virginia
Diversity Page: A collection of articles and webinars 
Scientists Must Challenge What Makes Studies Scientific 
Navajo-Led Science in Pursuit of Environmental Justice 
Becoming a Politically Engaged Scientist 
How to Recruit and Retain Underrepresented Minorities
How to Engage More African Americans in STEM 
Urbanism on West Africa's Slave Coast
The Colonial Origins of Tropical Field Stations

Updated 6/8/20 to add additional reading resources.