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.
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