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GTCA Statement for Black Lives

Dear members of the GTCA community and beyond,

As the officers of the Gay and Transgender Chemists and Allies (GTCA) committee under the Division of Professional Relations of the American Chemical Society (ACS), we condemn the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade at the hands of the police. We condemn the murder of Ahmaud Arbery by white supremacist vigilantes. We condemn the violence committed by police agencies across the country against protestors seeking justice for Black people. We stand in solidarity with our Black queer and trans community members, our Black chemistry colleagues, and with the Black Lives Matter movement nationwide.

The murder of George Floyd was not the consequence of a solitary “bad cop,” but rather the outcome of a policing system that has been rooted in anti-Black racism since its inception. We speak the name George Floyd in mourning and in rage knowing that his name is the latest in a long list of Black people who were murdered: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Philando Castile, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Samuel DuBose, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, and the innumerable others, many of whom are unknown to us. The officers in Minneapolis – Derek Chauvin, who killed George Floyd, as well as Tou Thao, Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane, who were complicit in Floyd’s death – must be brought to justice. Beyond that, we must also commit to dismantling the racist system behind his death in order to prevent more Black names from becoming hashtags.

The LGBTQ+ community is no stranger to protests, disobedience, and riots. The queer liberation movement was sparked to life at the Stonewall Inn in June of 1969 when, after countless nights of harassment and brutality by the New York Police Department, Black trans woman Marsha P. Johnson led a week-long uprising and ignited a revolution. Black transgender people continue to face the most dire outcomes of our community, including at least 19 murders of Black trans women and non-binary people in 2019 and the police killing of Black transgender man Tony McDade in Tallahassee last month. Black LGBTQ+ people continue to lead the queer and trans liberation movement through demonstrations and grassroots organizing. 

The GTCA found the statement released by the ACS on June 1, 2020 regarding the death of George Floyd to be woefully inadequate and a disservice to Black members of the ACS community. Words are hollow with no action, and action cannot come from a statement which refuses to name white supremacy, police brutality, and institutional racism in our own country and scientific field. The time has long since passed for chemists and chemistry educators to admit that science does not exist in an apolitical or depoliticized vacuum: we all must be committed to doing anti-racist work in our discipline. We call upon the ACS to back up their claim that “Diversity, Inclusion, and Respect is a core value” of the organization by committing resources to initiatives that support Black chemists and anti-racist work in chemistry, such as the following proposals:

  • Formalized mentorship programs for Black undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral scholars to connect them with mentors and professional development resources
  • Grant funds which support racial justice work in chemistry and chemistry education
  • Make articles in ACS journals written by Black scholars open access with no author fees to increase the discoverability of their research 
  • Host symposia at ACS National Meetings that challenge racism in chemistry
  • Increase funding available for Black students, including scholarship, conference travel funds, and waived membership fees
  • Call to all ACS divisions to purposefully and thoughtfully organize programs that feature diverse chemists and educators, including multiple non-white and non-male chemists in each program
  • Increased funding of diversity organizations within the ACS, including but not limited to the Committee for Minority Affairs, Chemists with Disabilities, International Chemists, Women Chemists of Color, Women Chemist Committee, and the GTCA 
  • Actively promote discussions around diversity in chemistry through regular webinars hosted by people of varying identities, including Black chemists
  • Ensure National Award recipients reflect the diversity of our nation and field 

The GTCA commits to doing the following to promote change within the organization: 

  • Promote any and all diversity programming at Local, Regional, and National Meetings
  • Plan events that center LGBTQ+ people of color with intention
  • Listen to our Black siblings to hear how we can continue to be allies in the fight to promote a just and equitable system 
  • Call out white-focused programming and language within the ACS publicly
  • Recruit Black LGBTQ+ leadership to our committee

Despite the official call made by the ACS for “peaceful protests [as] the most powerful tools to bring about needed change,” we share the rage of our Black community members and support the direct action taken by organizers in the streets.


In solidarity,

Gay & Trans Chemists and Allies Sub-Division Current and Former Chairs

Lisa M. Eytel, PhD (she/her/hers), GTCA Chair

Michelle Nolan, PhD (she/her or they/them), GTCA Chair-Elect

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2 Replies
New Contributor II

Re: GTCA Statement for Black Lives

Need a clarification.  In your last sentence, ".... support the direct action taken by organizers in the streets.", do you mean that GTCA supports the violence and destruction committed by the people gathered for the protests?

New Contributor

Re: GTCA Statement for Black Lives

I do not believe political issues belong under ACS's roof at all but, as a lot of ACS pages cite Black Lives Matter, I think ACS needs to seriously reconsider its association with this movement. BLM, and I mean specifically BLM Global Network and its associates, has engaged in some very problematic behavior that is totally unrelated to civil rights and has caused a lot of economic and physical harm to people of all races. 

As but one of many examples, BLMGN has officially praised and glorified foreign and domestic terrorists like Rasmea Odeh (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) and "Mama Assata" (Joanne Chesimard, FBI's Most Wanted List) respectively, along with Fidel Castro and three fugitives from justice who, after one killed a New Mexico law enforcement professional, hijacked a TWA airplane to Cuba.  BLMGN has also officially (Patrisse Cullors) denied the right of Israel to exist which is anti-Semitic by definition.

Our society can express its outrage at unlawful use of force by police as happened to George Floyd, arresting people for walking or driving while Black (if this happens to you, just Google on "false arrest" and your state and you will find attorneys who will take the case on a contingency basis), and discrimination against anybody for his or her race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual preference without associating ourselves with an organization that has itself engaged in some very problematic behavior.

With regard to "We condemn the violence committed by police agencies across the country against protestors seeking justice for Black people." Protest is a civil right and use of violence on a protester is a civil rights violation under color of law, which is a Federal crime. The FBI has a detailed page about civil rights violations under color of law. Rioting and looting are not civil rights and police have both the right and the duty to arrest those involved.  

The bottom line is that two or more wrongs do not make a right. What happened to George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor (who died as a result of a mix-up that should never happen again, and a police officer was wounded in the same incident) was wrong but this does not make looting, rioting, arson, incitement of deadly force confrontations, and glorification of dictators and terrorists right. If we look at some historical examples,

  • The English people had legitimate grievances against King Charles II which might have justified compelling him to sign an improved Magna Charter that made it clear he had no "divine right to rule" but not what Oliver Cromwell did subsequently to the Irish.
  • The French people had legitimate grievances against Louis XVI which might have justified forcing him to abdicate or sign something like the Magna Charta, but not the Terror in which countless people were killed followed by initiation of a genuine world war that cost millions of lives.
  • The Russian people had legitimate grievances against the Tsar which justified forcing him to abdicate, or else become a constitutional monarch and also get out of the First World War. It did not justify what the Bolsheviks did to countless Ukrainians, Russians, and also tried to do to the Poles in 1920 and succeeded in doing it to them in 1939. 
  • Germany had some very legitimate grievances over the Versailles Treaty and Triple Entente occupation of the Rhineland, but none of these justified in the least what the country then did to Jews, Romany, LGBT people, and Slavs along with neighboring countries.

The Beatles' song Revolution is highly instructive here. "But when you talk about destruction/ Don't you know that you can count me out."

I am speaking on this as an individual as my company, a separate corporate "person,." does not have any position on this issue.