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Live Chat: Black Lives Matter and Neuroscience: Continuing the Conversation 9/4/20 @ 1 p.m. EDT


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Andrew Chen

The Black Lives Matter Movement sparked a worldwide response indicating these issues have broad impact. On July 2, SfN hosted a webinar called, “Black Lives Matter and Neuroscience: Why This Moment Matters.” During the webinar, panelists Nii Addy, PhD, Marguerite Matthews, PhD, and Fitzroy ‘Pablo’ Wickham spoke about the challenges that diverse neuroscientists face within the field and provided guidance on how the neuroscience community can leverage this moment to influence change.

Join SfN and the panelists Friday, September 4 from 1 – 2 p.m. EDT as they continue their conversation and take additional questions within the Neuronline Community forum. Neuroscience is stronger with diverse perspectives and neuroscientists of all backgrounds are encouraged to attend and contribute to the live discussion. Those who are not able to attend are encouraged to post questions in this discussion thread in advance of the live event and read through the discussion at a later date.

Nii Addy.jpgNii Addy, PhD

Nii Addy is an associate professor of psychiatry and of cellular and molecular physiology at Yale School of Medicine. He received his B.S. in biology from Duke University and his PhD in neuroscience from Yale University. Addy directs a federally funded research program investigating the neurobiological bases of substance abuse, depression and anxiety. Addy’s team also studies the ability of tobacco product flavor additives to alter nicotine use behavior and addiction. He contributes to graduate student and postdoctoral training, faculty mentoring, and diversity, equity and inclusion programs and initiatives through his work on campus and his work in professional scientific societies.
 

Marguerite Matthews.jpgMarguerite Matthews, PhD

Marguerite Matthews is a health program specialist in the office of programs to enhance neuroscience workforce diversity at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Matthews received her B.S. in biochemistry from Spelman College and her PhD in neuroscience from the University of Pittsburgh. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship in behavioral neuroscience at the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), where she also served as program director for the Youth Engaged in Science (YES!) outreach initiative, and program director for the OHSU Fellowship for Diversity in Research Program to recruit and retain postdoctoral researchers from underrepresented backgrounds. As a program specialist, Matthews supports NINDS diversity initiatives and programs that provide neuroscience research training and career development for students and early career investigators from underrepresented backgrounds. Matthews is a former participant in the Neuroscience Scholars Program and currently serves as a mentor.
 

Fitzroy Wickham.jpgFitzroy Wickham

Fitzroy ‘Pablo’ Wickham is a Jamaican-born Wesleyan undergraduate double majoring in neuroscience and theater with a minor in chemistry. Wickham is a research assistant in the Naegele Lab at the Wesleyan University conducting stem cell research to treat temporal lobe epilepsy in mice. On campus, he serves as a head resident for Residential Life, senior class president, and an honor board/community standards board member. He is involved in student theater, mock trial, and the Jamaican Heritage Club, YAADI. His aspirations are to become a neurosurgeon, researcher, and actor.
 
 
 
Please remember to follow the Digital Learning Community Guidelines here when participating in the Live Chat.
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Guest Hugh

I don’t think the phrase, black lives matter, covers the issue. There are several factors we need to address: a) Western European colonial occupation of this continent and the violence associated with that; b) slavery as the American founding economic undergirding; c) socialism for the wealthy and capitalism for the poor—that the upper class has always supported itself with government pubic assistance, and have left the middle, working class and poor to fend for themselves; and, d) the values of isolation, independence, self-reliance, and bootstrap mobility as the American underlying values, which only benefit the wealthy and subverts the middle, working-class and poor people.

The consequence of this is that the social/ethnic groups that have been the most successful in the American socioeconomic culture have been those best able to cooperate with each other, leveraging their resources, and reinvesting in their own community, such as the Quakers. The Quakers developed their own communities, their own economy, and interacted with those outside their community to only a limited extent. There is an economic principle that if one recirculates a dollar three or more times within a community, the wealth of that community will grow exponentially. 

I think it would be more productive to explore how cooperative values, economic leveraging, and cultural values reinforcement (teamwork) could be encouraged and reinforced. As long as African American people are isolated and alone to confront all the pressures of American society, they will never succeed as a people.

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Guest Imagine! We are living in
On 9/1/2020 at 10:27 AM, Guest Hugh said:

I don’t think the phrase, black lives matter, covers the issue. There are several factors we need to address: a) Western European colonial occupation of this continent and the violence associated with that; b) slavery as the American founding economic undergirding; c) socialism for the wealthy and capitalism for the poor—that the upper class has always supported itself with government pubic assistance, and have left the middle, working class and poor to fend for themselves; and, d) the values of isolation, independence, self-reliance, and bootstrap mobility as the American underlying values, which only benefit the wealthy and subverts the middle, working-class and poor people.

The consequence of this is that the social/ethnic groups that have been the most successful in the American socioeconomic culture have been those best able to cooperate with each other, leveraging their resources, and reinvesting in their own community, such as the Quakers. The Quakers developed their own communities, their own economy, and interacted with those outside their community to only a limited extent. There is an economic principle that if one recirculates a dollar three or more times within a community, the wealth of that community will grow exponentially. 

I think it would be more productive to explore how cooperative values, economic leveraging, and cultural values reinforcement (teamwork) could be encouraged and reinforced. As long as African American people are isolated and alone to confront all the pressures of American society, they will never succeed as a people.

Imagine, we are living in the 21st century and STILL have to tell people our lives matter!!!! Imagine!

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Guest F. Eland

The reality as scientists is that we all know that ALL lives matter. Black lives DO matter, but so do Unborn Black lives. Black families also matter. Yet, despite the reality of what science shows, the same people who state that Black live matter are the ones who support the breakdown and destruction of the Black family, including the absent fathers, which leads to increased potential for crime, lower socio-economic status, lower academic achievement etc., as well as the three-fold higher level of abortions in Black women relative to practically any other race. For scientists who truly believe, as all should, that Black lives do matter, look at the reality of what science shows and defend those realities to truly defend the dignity and integrity of every human person - from their conception to their death. 

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Guest 129d1...044

Often people want to split their political and social dynamics into movements centered around single groups (e.g. Race, Gender/Sexual orientation, religion, disability). However, this often marginalizes those individuals that sit in the intersections of different identities. Individuals that sit in these margins have intersectional identities (e.g. black and women, black and disabled, latinx and LGBTQ+) and face compounded challenges from being marginalized in different ways. I think it is very important that when we consider diversity and equity that we push for the inclusion of all marginalized identities. I know as a disabled individual that disability is often not included in such efforts, especially in neuroscience and STEM in general. This does nothing but to harm those who are disabled, and especially those who are Black and disabled or other intersectional identities.

Anonymous poster hash: 129d1...044

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Nii Addy

My name is Dr. Nii Addy, and I direct a basic science laboratory investigating cholinergic, dopaminergic and L-type calcium channel mechanisms mediating substance use and mood disorders phenotypes. I also mentor graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, lead a faculty mentoring initiative, and contribute to diversity, equity, inclusion and antiracism efforts at Yale and in the broader scientific community.

Among other topics in this Live Chat, I look forward to addressing questions around tokenism, campus culture and climate, allyship, and graduate student mental health.

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Guest Stephanie Gupton

I would like to discuss suggestions for how to improve equity in the lab, classroom, and society for trainees. Also, suggestions for reaching out to less engaged faculty that don't appreciate the need for this.

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Guest Fitzroy 'Pablo' Wickham

Hi! My name is Fitzroy 'Pablo' Wickham and I am a Wesleyan Senior double-majoring in Neuroscience and Theatre with a minor in Chemistry. I will be one of the panelists answering questions today during this conversation. As an international black student attending a predominantly white institution (PWI) I am interested in answering questions on how to navigate academic spaces that often exclude minority groups. I would like to share my personal experience as to what can be helpful when mentoring students who face discrimination in addition to imposter syndrome. I would also be open to discussing practical steps that can be taken by those in positions of authority to promote equity, diversity and inclusivity in an organic manner. I am open to discussing any and all other concerns you may have. Thank you for participating!

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Marguerite Matthews

Good day to all and thank you for joining this live chat to continue the conversation of Black Lives Matter and Neuroscience! In my role at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, I work to support trainees from historically excluded groups in biomedical research. It's incredibly important to me to ensure all trainees have access to opportunities that will help them advance in their education, training, and career development. 

 

I look forward to addressing ways to increase diversity and inclusion in the NIH research workforce, mentoring/sponsoring, and career development.

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Andrew Chen

User submitted question:

Quote

What do you say to students who are fearful of entering large PWI institutions due to the lack of support they will face as a minority.

 

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Guest Grad Student

Dr. Addy, 

Do you have any advice for cis white researchers focused on diverse and minority communities? How to avoid tokenism while still promoting visibility? 

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Guest 129d1...044

How do you feel about intersectionality and ensuring the inclusion and equity of intersectional identities? My interest particularly stems from disabled individuals.

Anonymous poster hash: 129d1...044

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Guest Lisa Shepard

What strategies do you recommend for ensuring that higher ed institutions continue long-term conversations around this topic? 

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Guest Fitzroy 'Pablo' Wickham
13 minutes ago, Guest Stephanie Gupton said:

I would like to discuss suggestions for how to improve equity in the lab, classroom, and society for trainees. Also, suggestions for reaching out to less engaged faculty that don't appreciate the need for this.

Hi Stephanie! Thank you for your question. You have made one of the most important steps already by being a part of this conversation. It is important to take a look at who is attracted to your space and if you are noticing an unusual trend then you might want to find out why that exists. Working with organizations that are already in place such as McNair, QuestBridge and other organizations might be a good starting point to reaching students who might otherwise not seek out your lab, class etc. Once they are there try to get to know everyone individually! If you automatically begin to place more of a focus on someone you assume might need the extra attention then that might be off-putting. Instead, I would suggest that as a more personal relationship develops with each person then adjust the focus you place on each one as they welcome it. Don't force it! It takes time. 

If someone eventually opens up to you, please choose your words carefully as they could do some serious damage. Encourage their dreams and passions regardless of their backgrounds.

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Guest Chloe

Thank you for hosting this discussion. I wanted to know if any of the panelists have any suggestions of actionable items for a committee working toward improving recruitment and retention of black graduate students and postdocs. I have an interest in collecting qualitative data about black students' stories about what helps or hinders them progressing in academia, but I also want to avoid putting the burden on them to improve recruitment and retention. So I am also interested to know if asking for their stories would be a good approach or if it is better to focus on changing policies and culture within the institution.

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Karen Baskerville

What is NIH (and other funding agencies) doing to increase funding of research of Black faculty, especially faculty at smaller institutions? Also, is NIH actively working to increase representation of diverse scientists on NIH study sections?

Edited by Karen Baskerville
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Nii Addy
3 minutes ago, Guest Jan Naegele said:

@Nii Addy 

I would really like to hear more about allyship's role for tenure track assistant professors.

Thanks for the question! Providing allyship for tenure track assistant professor is so important, and it's also important that this is done sincerely. I think this is strongest when it is provided in a way that focuses on the assistant professors' value, contributions, and success. This also helps to avoid perceptions of tokenism. But it takes some homework and willingness to have honest conversations, for this to occur. Questions that can be asked include the following: What values does this faculty member bring to our department/ institution? What value are we providing for this faculty member? What mutual benefits and growth opportunities are in place for the faculty member and the institution? It also takes asking hard questions about what has worked well in the past, and what barriers are in place. Then it takes doing the hard work to effectively address any challenges that exist. 

 

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Marguerite Matthews
3 minutes ago, Guest 129d1...044 said:

How do you feel about intersectionality and ensuring the inclusion and equity of intersectional identities? My interest particularly stems from disabled individuals.

Anonymous poster hash: 129d1...044

Intersectionality is incredibly necessary to consider in conversations of diversity and inclusion. So many of us embrace multiple identities - some or all of which may be marginalized and discriminated against. The inclusion and equity pieces are often left out of conversations around diversity and doesn't allow for the opportunity to confront the varied challenges that different groups may face and the intersection of those challenges. I think it's important for folks with marginalized identities - including disabled individuals - to be invited to the table to offer important perspectives. And if those identities are not represented, I would hope there are people advocating for them to be included or for people from those groups to speak up and demand to be included. 

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Guest Dr. Kaela S. Singleton
21 minutes ago, Nii Addy said:

My name is Dr. Nii Addy, and I direct a basic science laboratory investigating cholinergic, dopaminergic and L-type calcium channel mechanisms mediating substance use and mood disorders phenotypes. I also mentor graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, lead a faculty mentoring initiative, and contribute to diversity, equity, inclusion and antiracism efforts at Yale and in the broader scientific community.

Among other topics in this Live Chat, I look forward to addressing questions around tokenism, campus culture and climate, allyship, and graduate student mental health.

Hi Dr. Addy, I'm interested in your perspective on tokenism and how to combat those feelings as a trainee at any and all levels. How can Black and Brown students find a sense of belonging and confidence in the neuro community when their achievements are often associated with affirmative action or less than?

 

I' also love an answer from Dr. Matthews too!

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Guest Guest Margaret
6 minutes ago, Guest Fitzroy 'Pablo' Wickham said:

Hi Stephanie! Thank you for your question. You have made one of the most important steps already by being a part of this conversation. It is important to take a look at who is attracted to your space and if you are noticing an unusual trend then you might want to find out why that exists. Working with organizations that are already in place such as McNair, QuestBridge and other organizations might be a good starting point to reaching students who might otherwise not seek out your lab, class etc. Once they are there try to get to know everyone individually! If you automatically begin to place more of a focus on someone you assume might need the extra attention then that might be off-putting. Instead, I would suggest that as a more personal relationship develops with each person then adjust the focus you place on each one as they welcome it. Don't force it! It takes time. 

If someone eventually opens up to you, please choose your words carefully as they could do some serious damage. Encourage their dreams and passions regardless of their backgrounds.

Thanks for these helpful insights! Could you say a bit more about the sorts of mistakes one might make in responding to a student in this situation? What kinds of responses are you thinking about that might cause damage?

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Guest Guest

If, as a PhD student, you are already in an environment that is discriminatory and hostile, and you recognize it is an environment that you really need to leave (for career development and mental health), how would you make that transition to another program? It is difficult to tell the story, but it is also hard to think an academic career should end for a student who's discriminated against by some PIs. 

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Guest Fitzroy 'Pablo' Wickham
16 minutes ago, Andrew Chen said:

User submitted question:

 

I say your fear is VALID! It is important to know that it is not all in your head and you are not crazy. But even though the support is lacking, know that that doesn't mean it is non-existent. I can only speak from my individual experience, but being at a PWI I chose to align myself with people I could identify with. That would be my inner circle. The group is small (I admit) but work with it. They will be incredibly valuable at supporting you through your lowest lows and you can build each other up. That being said, I have met friends and mentors in the form of people I wouldn't expect! So throw out your own personal biases, give people chances and take chances. Be open to trying to get to know identities other than your own after you have found your inner circle and you will be surprised at how much they can learn from interacting with you and therefore improve their future interactions with others like yourself.

Essentially, you are paving the way for future minority students to not fear going to PWIs the way you have to. And hopefully we move in a direction where PWIs are no longer a thing!

 

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Nii Addy
11 minutes ago, Guest Grad Student said:

Dr. Addy, 

Do you have any advice for cis white researchers focused on diverse and minority communities? How to avoid tokenism while still promoting visibility? 

Thanks for the question! In general, I think it's very helpful to foster an atmosphere of inclusivity, and to make that a priority. You can definitely do this on an individual level, in how you interact with and promote people in those communities. But I think honest and sincere conversations are very effective in avoiding tokenism. By building relationships, learning where people feel supported, and learning where the challenges and barriers exist, you can support diverse and minority communities in ways that are specific to their needs, desires and passions. In a way, this more informed approach shows an additional level of investment, without tokenism or a need to simply "check a box," so to speak. 

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Guest Jan Naegele
7 minutes ago, Nii Addy said:

Thanks for the question! Providing allyship for tenure track assistant professor is so important, and it's also important that this is done sincerely. I think this is strongest when it is provided in a way that focuses on the assistant professors' value, contributions, and success. This also helps to avoid perceptions of tokenism. But it takes some homework and willingness to have honest conversations, for this to occur. Questions that can be asked include the following: What values does this faculty member bring to our department/ institution? What value are we providing for this faculty member? What mutual benefits and growth opportunities are in place for the faculty member and the institution? It also takes asking hard questions about what has worked well in the past, and what barriers are in place. Then it takes doing the hard work to effectively address any challenges that exist. 

 

For these conversations to take place, would one-on-one in mentoring meetings be appropriate?

 

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Alexandra Roach

At the AAC&U STEM conference in Chicago last summer, there was a lot of talk about creating cohorts for incoming minority STEM students who arrive to campus early, engage in bonding activities and then once school starts, these students already know other students and feel connected and supported. Does this creation of a minority cohort conflict at all with the notion of tokenism and/or could an institution run the risk of making these students actually feel even more "other"?

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Holly Moore

@Andrew Chen

For some time, we've been asking ourselves what we say to  trainees about how to survive the research career pipeline, generally, at PWI institutions, and in particular at "elite" research-intensive institutions who believe they operate as a meritocracy (often mistaking elitism for meritocracy) but don't fully realize how much racism is built into their model of an "ideal academic researcher".    Of course we need to mentor trainees on how to navigate the systems as they are,  but I'd rather see us focus our attention on the institutions that allow systemic racism to persist.   How do we incentivize research institutions to commit resources, energy, etc to actively deconstruct value systems that have built-in bias and create a sustainably inclusive culture for faculty, staff and students.  

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Tristan Fehr

Hi there - could you offer any insights for grad/postdoc trainees who may be struggling with engaging institutional leadership and PIs with antiracist work, when leadership's current focus is on bolstering optical allyship and virtue signaling (e.g. asking "how do we show people that our lab is a safe space" instead of maybe "how do we make this lab space more inclusive")? 

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Marguerite Matthews
5 minutes ago, Karen Baskerville said:

What is NIH (and other funding agencies) doing to increase funding of research of Black faculty, especially faculty at smaller institutions? Also, is NIH actively working to increase representation of diverse scientists on NIH study sections?

Many (if not all) NIH Institutes and Centers are working to enact policies and procedures that will increase the number of Black PIs receiving research project grants and encourage more Black investigators to apply for funding. Much of this work has been internal and requires approval from National Advisory Councils and the Office of General Counsel at HHS - so I encourage folks to be on the look out for news in the coming months.

Currently out, is the NIH Common Fund’s Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) program aims to enhance and maintain cultures of inclusive excellence in the biomedical research community.

At the Institute and Center level, many in-house review branches are considering ways to remove unconscious bias and other structural issues in review - I encourage investigators to reach out to their Scientific Review Officers to give them names of colleagues from diverse backgrounds to be considered for study sections. Within the Center for Scientific Review, there is an interest to increase diversity in review. Of note is the Early Career Reviewer (ECR) Program - a program that aims to help early career scientists become more competitive as grant applicants through first-hand experience with peer review and to enrich and diversify CSR’s pool of trained reviewers. 

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Guest 28a16...57e

As a director of a undergraduate neuroscience program (a midwest state university), I really want to increase diversity within our faculty. But, for each new Assistant Professor search, we get extremely few applicants who would add diversity to our group. We post ads to recommended diversity sites and emphasize diversity in the ad. Do you have suggestions of things we may be overlooking or things we may be doing incorrectly?

Anonymous poster hash: 28a16...57e

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Guest Geoffroy (MSU)

Good afternoon,

Who do you think should chair/lead a "promoting diversity committee"? White men or people from diversity groups? I see + and cons for both choices.

 

 

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Guest 129d1...044
14 minutes ago, Marguerite Matthews said:

Intersectionality is incredibly necessary to consider in conversations of diversity and inclusion. So many of us embrace multiple identities - some or all of which may be marginalized and discriminated against. The inclusion and equity pieces are often left out of conversations around diversity and doesn't allow for the opportunity to confront the varied challenges that different groups may face and the intersection of those challenges. I think it's important for folks with marginalized identities - including disabled individuals - to be invited to the table to offer important perspectives. And if those identities are not represented, I would hope there are people advocating for them to be included or for people from those groups to speak up and demand to be included. 

Thank you! For your insight and support. I really hope to see individuals of all marginalized identities and mixed marginalized identities at the table as neuroscientists, especially those who have disabled intersectional identities.

Anonymous poster hash: 129d1...044

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Guest sew
6 minutes ago, Tristan Fehr said:

Hi there - could you offer any insights for grad/postdoc trainees who may be struggling with engaging institutional leadership and PIs with antiracist work, when leadership's current focus is on bolstering optical allyship and virtue signaling (e.g. asking "how do we show people that our lab is a safe space" instead of maybe "how do we make this lab space more inclusive")? 

I would also be interested in hearing suggestions related to this topic. 

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Guest Charleese Williams
5 minutes ago, Guest Geoffroy (MSU) said:

Good afternoon,

Who do you think should chair/lead a "promoting diversity committee"? White men or people from diversity groups? I see + and cons for both choices.

 

 

Would you be willing to list said pros and cons?

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Andrew Chen

User submitted question:

What can we do to help non-Black mentors to understand and assist our black mentees?

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Nii Addy
6 minutes ago, Guest Dr. Kaela S. Singleton said:

Hi Dr. Addy, I'm interested in your perspective on tokenism and how to combat those feelings as a trainee at any and all levels. How can Black and Brown students find a sense of belonging and confidence in the neuro community when their achievements are often associated with affirmative action or less than?

 

I' also love an answer from Dr. Matthews too!

This is such an important question. I'll be completely honest, to agree with you, that this is a challenge at the trainee level and at all levels! To reference a comment that Pablo mentioned in our previous live conversation, it's helpful to acknowledge that various kinds of support have existed in our field well before affirmative action. When people talk about "the old boys club" or other similar comments, it's clear that different people have been given access to various opportunities for a whole host of different reasons. The key here is that we're pushing for equity, especially in instances where many of us from different ethnic backgrounds, socioeconomic status, etc. did not have the same access to these opportunities. As Dr. Matthews also mentioned in our live conversation, these diversity efforts are still based on merit and are not handouts by any means. So these opportunities exist to level the playing field. 

Even so, it's easy to feel that the opportunities are being provided as a token. I would surround yourself with others who can remind you about your worth as a person and as a trainee, and remind you of all the talent and excellent contributions you bring to the table. Sometime, it can be helpful to get this support from other black and brown students in your department or institution, or other black and brown students outside your institution - especially those who walk through similar challenges. But it's also essential to receive that support from allies (and I'm writing to those allies with this statement)! In general, it's helpful to have validation across the board, and to seek out those who will give you that kind of support. 

Personally, this support has come from a huge group of mentors and supporters over the years. Too many to list here, but it includes faculty mentors, NIH program officers, registrars, peers, and those outside science as well.

 

 

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Thank you for continuing this conversation!  There is so much to consider, but with hiring freezes at many universities, do you have any suggestions as to how to make STEM departments more welcoming and safe?  Communication within research teams and active recruitment of underrepresented students would be a start, but present professors' webinars and avenues for discussion and education for training is all I can think of, especially in the context of mentorship for all underrepresented students, including black, Latino, LGBTQ, and disabled.   I apologize for the vagueness of this question

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Karen Baskerville
6 minutes ago, Marguerite Matthews said:

Many (if not all) NIH Institutes and Centers are working to enact policies and procedures that will increase the number of Black PIs receiving research project grants and encourage more Black investigators to apply for funding. Much of this work has been internal and requires approval from National Advisory Councils and the Office of General Counsel at HHS - so I encourage folks to be on the look out for news in the coming months.

Currently out, is the NIH Common Fund’s Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) program aims to enhance and maintain cultures of inclusive excellence in the biomedical research community.

At the Institute and Center level, many in-house review branches are considering ways to remove unconscious bias and other structural issues in review - I encourage investigators to reach out to their Scientific Review Officers to give them names of colleagues from diverse backgrounds to be considered for study sections. Within the Center for Scientific Review, there is an interest to increase diversity in review. Of note is the Early Career Reviewer (ECR) Program - a program that aims to help early career scientists become more competitive as grant applicants through first-hand experience with peer review and to enrich and diversify CSR’s pool of trained reviewers. 

Marguerite, Thank you for your reply. The information is very helpful, and I will look out for news in the near future. It is good to know that these issues are being addressed with actionable outcomes.

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Guest Fitzroy 'Pablo' Wickham
30 minutes ago, Marci Adolfo said:

@Fitzroy Wickham

Hello! I'm really interested in hearing your take on how experiences of racial discrimination affect impostor syndrome. 

Hi Marci, thank you for your question. I first learnt of imposter syndrome when I entered college during orientation period. It was something all the incoming frosh could relate to. For many, this would be the first time we were studying with others who were also considered the best of the best from their respective parts of the world. Of course, this is daunting. But for students of color, this factor is even further compounded. Speaking from my own experience, I will say that growing up I was considered as someone who acted "white" since society tends to associated being educated with whiteness. Before coming to a PWI, my peers had all shared my dark skin tone. Now, being in the presence of actual white people made me feel extremely inferior. On top of that, I was now existing in a society build upon racist ideals and it felt like the system was severely stacked against me. You enter a class and even if you have imposter syndrome, seeing someone who looks like you or had a similar upbringing can be reassuring. It is even more reassuring to see a professor who you can relate to! For those who face racial discrimination this reassurance is very lacking since you are often the only person of color in some spaces. The imposter syndrome is heightened as it is no longer just about your abilities, but what if something is inherently wrong with everyone who is like you? The pressure is on since you somehow represent your identity group since you are underrepresented in the field and if you mess up it feels like a reflection not just on you but on your race– to further reinforce preconceived notions of inferiority. 

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Guest Cameron

Thanks to all the panelists for your previous panel discussion and for coming back to continue this conversation, your time and energy are hugely appreciated! I wonder if any of you think critical race theory and broader social-science driven critiques of science could (should?) be directly incorporated into science programs or science classes? Do you think this would be helpful, or potentially harmful to Black and Indigenous students who might experience tokenization by "uninformed" profs/other students during these discussions? Should white/non-BIPOC science profs be trained to hold space for these conversations within the context of a genetics class, for example, and/or would it be plausible to have an entirely separate course requirement taught by race and history scholars? Do you think affinity groups within science cohorts would be helpful or increase feelings of alienation for Black and Indigenous students?

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Guest 129d1...044

What can other graduate students do to best support their Black peers/colleagues and their success? (Sorry that might be a very vague and open question).

Anonymous poster hash: 129d1...044

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Guest Ultrastructure

Do any panelists know where to find an effective survey tool for finding out how much intolerance is endemic within a program or department? I'm facing folks who think all is well as long as no one is complaining. I'm not convinced. 

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Nii Addy
17 minutes ago, Guest Guest said:

If, as a PhD student, you are already in an environment that is discriminatory and hostile, and you recognize it is an environment that you really need to leave (for career development and mental health), how would you make that transition to another program? It is difficult to tell the story, but it is also hard to think an academic career should end for a student who's discriminated against by some PIs. 

First of all, I'm sorry to hear about your challenging situation. I also applaud you asking this question, and for showing resilience in the midst of the discrimination. If there is an  ombudsperson at your institution (who can discuss the situation confidentially), this can be a good starting point for a conversation. Ideally, there is also a reporting structure that allows you to report the discrimination and hostility, with any concerns of repercussion for you. But I know this is not always the case.

In terms of transitioning to other programs, it can sometimes be helpful to talk to faculty or supporters at an outside institutions, who can help. If you don't have anyone in that capacity at the moment, feel free to reach out to either me or Dr. Matthews as well. We have both walked other students through similar situations before, where students have successfully changed labs or institutions, and are now thriving, despite the hostile situations they had to leave! 

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Marguerite Matthews
1 minute ago, Andrew Chen said:

User submitted question:

What can we do to help non-Black mentors to understand and assist our black mentees?

As with any mentoring relationship, it's important for both parties to get to know each other and agree to have honest, open discussions about the expectations of the mentoring relationship. But it's also important for the mentor to communicate their desire to address their mentee's needs and help them navigate challenges, regardless of their cultural, racial, religious, SES, gender backgrounds. It's okay to say, "Hey, I don't know what it's like to navigate life as a Black person but I want to support you in any way I can." Showing compassion, a genuine interest in a mentee, a willingness to listen to your mentees concerns/struggles/goals/interests (inside or outside of the lab), and willingness to act on behalf of your mentee go a long way in creating a strong relationship with Black mentees who often feel ignored, neglected, and unseen. 

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Guest BChen

Dear Dr. Addy and Dr. Matthews and Fitzroy,

I am a recent graduate pursuing graduate studies in addiction research. Good to have you all today! Thanks for taking the time out of your busy days.

As an Asian American, often I am confronted with the anti-Blackness in my community and troubled by the generation-long-perpetuated anti-Black opinions stemming from not just skin-deep reasons but also the history of racism between minorities. I do not want to invalidate or sweep under the rug the fact that minorities are racist to each other too - which pits minority against minority and hurts the progress of movements like BLM. This results in to parts of the Asian community disregarding / not supporting Black Lives Matter, because they believe the effort should be Minority lives matter, or something other similar narrative. As someone who is a strong supporter of BLM because I know that what we are fighting for is breaking down racial discrimination FOR EVERYONE, but shining a much needed light on the particularly damaging and life-threatening discrimination to black folks.

My question to you three is: what do you think people like me, who are also a minority in STEM, but may be considered a "model minority" (a status I believe most progressive Asian Americans detest being called, I certainly do), can do to break down these anti-Black attitudes within our own and other minority communities? Not only break down these attitudes, but also help those in our communities to see transparently what BLM stands for?

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Holly Moore

@Karen Baskerville

At the link below, you can find some information on the efforts of the NIH Center for Scientific Review to increase diversity in the membership of study sections.  

https://extramural-diversity.nih.gov/ic-pages/center-for-scientific-review

Investigators can get involved by

1) providing feedback to CSR through their ENQUIRE program https://public.csr.nih.gov/StudySections/CSREnquire

2) Letting NIH know of their interest in participating as a reviewer.  Investigators can express interest to the Scientific Review Officer for a given study section,  their program officer(s),  colleagues that have served as regular members of the study section,  and others who might be asked by CSR to recommend reviewers  See this link for more information about the process of becoming a reviewer. https://public.csr.nih.gov/ForReviewers/BecomeAReviewer/CharteredReviewers

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Guest Fitzroy 'Pablo' Wickham
26 minutes ago, Tristan Fehr said:

Hi there - could you offer any insights for grad/postdoc trainees who may be struggling with engaging institutional leadership and PIs with antiracist work, when leadership's current focus is on bolstering optical allyship and virtue signaling (e.g. asking "how do we show people that our lab is a safe space" instead of maybe "how do we make this lab space more inclusive")? 

Thank you for your question, Tristan! I love this question because you are totally right– many times allyship comes off as performative and is used primarily for optical purposes. In answering your question I am going to make a suggestion to those in authoritative positions who want to be allies:

1. It's NOT about YOU! Don't get involved in allyship work if your goal is to "remove your guilt". Do it so marginalized groups no longer feel unwelcome in your space.  Stop advertising all the work you have done to be an ally and to promote antiracism in your space. If what you are doing is working, those who are benefitting from it will acknowledge it.

2. LISTEN to those who are AFFECTED! You cannot just assume what their needs are so make sure you are meeting everyone where they are at and that only comes from getting to genuinely know people.

For you, Tristan, we have to be brave to step up to the plate and call in/out our PIs and other leaders when they are not doing a good job at promoting inclusivity. A good move is to always provide practical suggestions along with the criticisms. 

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Karen Baskerville
2 minutes ago, Holly Moore said:

@Karen Baskerville

At the link below, you can find some information on the efforts of the NIH Center for Scientific Review to increase diversity in the membership of study sections.  

https://extramural-diversity.nih.gov/ic-pages/center-for-scientific-review

Investigators can get involved by

1) providing feedback to CSR through their ENQUIRE program https://public.csr.nih.gov/StudySections/CSREnquire

2) Letting NIH know of their interest in participating as a reviewer.  Investigators can express interest to the Scientific Review Officer for a given study section,  their program officer(s),  colleagues that have served as regular members of the study section,  and others who might be asked by CSR to recommend reviewers  See this link for more information about the process of becoming a reviewer. https://public.csr.nih.gov/ForReviewers/BecomeAReviewer/CharteredReviewers

Holly, Thank you.

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