What Now? The Death of George Floyd and Structural Racism in the United States
The Council for the Advancement of Black Engineers (CABE) joins the US engineering industry, scientific community, academic institutions and technology companies in solidarity and condemnation of the killing of George Floyd and the terrible toll on life and liberty caused by generations of systemic racism in the United States.
In the wake of the latest police killing of an unarmed Black man in Minneapolis, we are calling for reforms on the use of deadly force by law enforcement, the review of discriminatory practices, and justice for those whose lives have been taken as a result of racism targeting people of color.
The world looked on in horror and condemnation as America convulsed and bleed into its sinful past. The protest and police violence scenes laid bare the struggle for unity against deepening division in America 2020. The events — at times uplifting, at times shocking — crystallized around one overriding issue: What kind of country are we, and what kind of country do we want to be?
The CABE unequivocally denounces the abuse of power, police violence and lack of self accountability resulting in the perpetuation of unacceptable, disgraceful policing in multiple police departments across this country.
The CABE is committed more than ever, to fight the race driven disparity gap by increasing the number of culturally responsible Black Engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.
It should come as no surprise that the field of engineering has a diversity problem. Historically an area dominated by white, middle and upper-class men, that legacy remains primarily unabated.
For black men, pursuing a graduate degree in engineering is like riding out a storm according to a 2018 paper published in the American Educational Research Journal, “there’s an assumption that students drop out of an engineering program because they couldn’t cut it and that the problem is an individual flaw.” The Journal research showed the key obstacles are systemic, structural, historic, and rooted in a legacy of science that is counterproductive for broadening Black student participation in STEM.
If negative experiences cause black men to leave doctoral engineering programs, that hurts national efforts to broaden participation in these fields. It limits the number of black faculty who will train the next generation of engineers and diversify the future pool of researchers and scientists. It also has implications for U.S. global competition, national security, innovation, and technological advancements because different perspectives may be excluded.
The killing of George Floyd has hit a long festering nerve in ways no recent such event did. Condemnations have come from all directions, and all levels of power, often with expressions of commitment to address not only issues of policing in minority communities, but also the more menacing, systemic intractable problems of inequality and racism.
We the CABE have built upon the vivid memories of George Floyd’s racist murder and resulting public outrage, of previous racial violence, disruptions and persistent failures.
We the CABE refuse to submit to empty or rhetoric-driven calls for change. The time for ‘real’ change is now. We can’t wait.