The frontlines of white fragility

A public Facebook post about the March for Science:

First of all, we wish to humbly say to our POC communities and Indigenous friends and relatives that we do not wish to speak for all POC or Indigenous peoples. Resisting this white supremacist system, however, means that we #WoCSpeakOut sisters continuously put ourselves on the frontlines of white fragility in order to serve our own communities. We are trying, through our presence, to uplift the voices of our people.

In that vein, we attempted, multiple times, to reach out to the March for Science-Seattle organizers (with other POC and some of our white allies) to advise them on how to make their event less racist/elitist/colonialist/sexist. We put forward a list of detailed strongly worded “suggestions” to help make the March for Science have an actual positive impact for the social justice movement. We hoped to help make the March more in line with the true values of our grassroots community.

Our list was not ALL the MfS organizers should have done, it was a list of suggestions on how to begin this process.

The March for Science organizers REJECTED our suggestions and REFUSED to work with us because they wanted to only work with “evidence-based people”. Our lived experience meant nothing to them. Our perspective as POC meant nothing to them. This elitism, racism, sexism, and classism is why we will not be at the MfS tomorrow and why we reject and denounce the MfS in Seattle and around the so-called United States.

This is the kind of thing that makes everybody think the left is disappearing up its own ass.

Why should anyone’s “lived experience” mean something to people organizing a march for science? People on the left really need to stop talking in the language of Chronic Self-obsession, because there is nothing lefty about Chronic Self-obsession. Science as an institution should make every effort to be less white and less male, but that doesn’t mean it’s required to take advice from everyone who offers it.

So here are a few of their “suggestions” [scare-quotes theirs].

Dear Western White Cis Male Scientific Community:

1. We need a great deal of healing before the scientific community can be credible to the general public in terms of equity and “inclusivity” (inclusivity is a white supremacist term, implies that they are doing minorities a favor instead of simply doing the right thing).

2. In order for the scientific community to begin regaining trust of POC and marginalized people, they need to openly acknowledge how they have failed us for decades with their inaction on climate change. They must openly acknowledge that they have failed the Global South, POC, poor people, Indigenous peoples, and Womxn.

Their inaction on climate change? That would be politicians and corporations and consumers, not scientists. Science as a discipline or community or profession is, just for one thing, the only reason we know anything about climate change. Science has gathered the evidence, and science has done its best to communicate it to the rest of us. Put the blame for inaction where it belongs.

4. In their values they say “Science is the BEST method for understanding the world”. This will greatly offend Indigenous communities, POC, and faith communities. This divisive messaging should be muted to “Science is an EXCELLENT method to understand the world”.


5. Earth Day is EARTH DAY, not “Science Day”. This must be openly acknowledged and they need to be humble in their messaging to honor Mother Earth. Co-optation of this day for the ego of the scientific community will not be tolerated by POCs or Indigenous communities.

Oh for fuck’s sake. “Mother Earth” is a metaphor. The bullying language is childish and repellent.

6. There must be Indigenous women who are grassroots activists on the march steering committee, as well as WOC and other POC such as Queer and Trans POC.

7. Their paid organizer for the March must be a POC from the grassroots racial justice community, NOT a white person or a colonized POC who is trained to obey the system.

They were right to put scare-quotes on “suggestions” – all those “must”s are commands, not suggestions. This statement is enough to make me want to go watch Fox News or something.

There are 19 suggestions commands total. Enjoy.

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