Black history of science
February 25, 2021 7:12 AM   Subscribe

Meet 7 groundbreaking Black scientists from the past From the first treatment for leprosy to the foundation of the global positioning system, Black scientists have long been involved in major scientific developments, despite being pushed to the margins, refused jobs, and denied credit for their discoveries. Here are a few of their stories.
How historical racism in science continues to shape the Black experience Science is meant to be objective. In order to be trusted, it is to be free of any bias or prejudice and simply rely on experimentation, observation and conclusions. However, that has not been the case when it comes to race. And centuries of scientific racism have been hard to shake — even to this day, where the effects are still being seen and felt.
posted by heatherlogan (7 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
Percy L. Julian had to move to Vienna to pursue a Ph D. Bessie Coleman had to move to France to learn how to fly. Can you imagine how much it took to move to a different hemisphere at the dawn of the 20th century? Even if your mother made low wages as a maid, like Ms. Coleman's mom? And looking forward to today, are there kids who could be curing colon cancer and inventing time travel but lack educational equity or a place to live?

Does it sag like a heavy load? Or does it explode?
posted by Alison at 7:36 AM on February 25 [4 favorites]

I'm currently attending the online edition of the Computational and Systems Neuroscience (Cosyne) conference, and yesterday they hosted a panel discussion entitled Mini-symposium on the history of race and racism in science, which can be watched on youtube here. Under "Show More" you can find a description of the video and a short reading list. Very briefly, it's scientists talking about how science has been used to justify racism (but please read the blurb if you're interested). I couldn't watch it live because of my time zone, but I'm pretty sure it should be very interesting, and I'm hoping to watch it as soon as I can.
posted by Alex404 at 9:54 AM on February 25 [3 favorites]

These Female African scientists are changing the world.
posted by adamvasco at 10:11 AM on February 25 [4 favorites]

Thanks for sharing these. I don't know anything about Black Canadians. It felt very strange (and comforting) to read that some of these folks are the descendants of those who escaped via the underground railroad. So remarkable.
posted by shoesietart at 10:11 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]

This seems relevant.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 10:57 AM on February 25 [3 favorites]

Thank you for this post!
posted by darkstar at 11:03 AM on February 25

Engineers are practical scientists so here is a shout out for Nazambi Matee, a
Kenyan Engineer who Recycles Plastic Into Bricks Stronger Than Concrete.
posted by adamvasco at 9:29 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]

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