Today’s (05.01.14) #BLACKandSTEM chat topic revolves around STEM and education policy in a general sense: what policy matters are important to you, and do you think those issues impact our community differently or disproportionately?
I asked a third question regarding which policy-related activities do the #BLACKandSTEM community participate in.
I realize that, as with most of America, people in this community may be aware of and, even, have an opinion on prominent policy matters. But do they see a role for themselves in the process of informing and building policy?
I decided to come up with this list that might give someone some insight into whether there is some interest in offering more to policy. There is not particular order to this list.
You might be interested in policy if…
- You vote in every election – no matter the level of government
- You have chimed in on any debate regarding the importance of HBCUs
- You volunteer in churches, schools, community centers so that black children can encounter black success
- You have a stance on science funding issues
- You have ever felt as if black students are PWI institutions need more support from their institutions
- You think that your company or institution has a “responsibility” to facilitate diversity and inclusion
- You have an opinion on gender pay equality
- You feel as if there aren’t enough black tenured professors at colleges and universities
- You know what the phrase “school-to-prison pipeline” means
- You think that more should be done to support individuals with disabilities
- You have a stance in mental health coverage as a part of student insurance
- You spend more than a passing moment watching MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, RT, Frontline, etc
- You have participated in barbershop debates about universal healthcare and poverty
- You have debated over taxes
- You have ever said “we need more women in STEM”
- You grew up feeling as if STEM education was not accessible to you or to other black kids at your school and you think that has to change NOW
- You follow sociologists, journalists, economists, etc on twitter
- You are aware of the Supreme Court decision on affirmative action
If it seems as if this list is getting long, that’s because there are million (literally or figuratively) behaviors that we all commit that are consistent with interests in policy. As tax-payers, voters, constituents, students, parents, teachers, and/or employees, there are many roles that we can occupy.
- We can advocate to policy-makers by writing letters, calling, signing petitions visiting with offices of law-makers, attending public government meetings, or serving on government advisory boards.
- We can advocate to voters on issues that are important to our community by writing op-eds for news papers, write articles for blogs, commit to outreach in our schools and churches, and share articles and resources with family and friends – even if they aren’t STEM.
- We can communicate issues to our communities that may impact us through media outlets that primarily serve the black community. Pitch an article or participate in twitter chats.
There are also roles that encompass more of our time, making policy more like our day jobs.
- Policy fellowships put you in the position to invest more energy into learning about policy, lobbying, producing programming, doing policy research
- Starting/participating in policy groups at your job or institutions
- Running for office – there are many offices that could use the insight and passion of those who stand at our intersection of #BLACKandSTEM from city council on up.
I encourage us all to consider our voices valid on policy issues. As #BLACKandSTEM we have unique perspectives that are extremely important to the discourse. Consider putting your voice to use on the issues that you care about!
A good place to start is to contact your professional organizations’ public affairs offices and see which activities they are facilitating. My go-to organizations are:
- Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
- National Society of Black Physicists
- National Society for Black Engineers
- American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (through which I do the majority of my advocacy work)
If you need more information, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send a tweet to @BLACKandSTEM!