Working on being actively anti-racist – with a little help from EREN
2020 was a difficult year but a highlight for me was joining EREN and trying to learn more about how to actively be anti-racist.
This little blog post is to share a story with you of one thing that EREN inspired. It’s a small thing, but I believe it’s important for people like me, who have lived a life full of the privilege of not being judged for our race to try and step up and do some of the sorely needed work in this area. I have changed the context slightly to keep the people involved confidential, but here goes…..
I’m a scientist and often sit on panels that decide which scientific projects to fund. In one such meeting, we interviewed candidates for many, many hours. The candidates were incredible. They were smart, had great ideas… and they were all white. At the end of the meeting, we were asked if we had any comments about the entire process. Because of listening to people in EREN, I had the courage and vocabulary to articulate my disappointment that we did not have a field of candidates that more accurately reflected the backgrounds of our wider population. While there was a little bit of a (surprising) push back against this comment at first, we ended up having a very productive discussion about how we could help change this and encourage a more inclusive and diverse pool for the next round. The panel all agreed that to do the most we can for the world as scientists, we need a wide range of perspectives. We fed back our unanimous comments on lack of diversity and suggestions to improve this to the organisers of the funding.
So thank you to everyone in EREN for your inspiration and your work to make our university a better place. I wanted you all to know that it’s making a difference (even if only in tiny steps) beyond our walls.
Prof Tara Spires-Jones, Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences Edinburgh