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On Wednesday, June 10 the Museum of Science, Boston will pause all operations, and cancel all programming to join the national movement, #ShutDownSTEM. We will devote the day to understanding the underlying realities about race-based inequality, the role science institutions have played in perpetuating that inequality, and the opportunities the Museum and the individuals who make up the Museum have to bring about positive change.
This day of learning and listening is intended to help us move forward in doing what we know this moment is calling us to do: learn, change, act, to help build a more just and equitable community. As a Museum, we are doing this in a number of ways:
We are listening and learning from each other. In our virtual working world these days, we come together as an institution online in staff town halls and in our social justice forum. These are opportunities where staff can engage in thoughtful dialogue, recommend actions and offer resources to each other.
We are evolving our Community Programming. We are developing programming for both internal discussions and external community conversations that amplify the voices of Black scientists, highlight the realities of inequality in STEM related issues, and provide a platform to engage authentically with each other and our community on these issues.
We are joining our community beyond the Museum. Many of our staff are participating in efforts concerning race and equity outside the Museum. We are encouraging everyone to practice their right to make their voice heard, safely. We encourage our staff to bring their experiences back into the Museum to help inform our work going forward.
We are calling on our community to join. We all have a lot to learn about how our institutions – including science-focused institutions – can actually perpetuate systemic racism and inequality. We hope that everyone in our community will be open to how this is so, and to learn from the resources on ShutDownSTEM.com. This is especially important for those who work in science-related fields. Perhaps you too would like to take a day for reflection and learning and join #ShutDownSTEM. Check out the resources here to continue your journey of understanding.
These are initial steps of a much longer journey. We are facing up to what has been true for so long, but which recent race-related murders have brought screaming to the surface: inequities and injustice abound in our land, and it is time to bring about change. This journey for most of us begins with learning and listening. The journey requires disrupting what we normally do to create action.
Tim Ritchie, President, Museum of Science, Boston