Announcements / 06.8.20
A personal reflection

On Monday, June 8, amid continued worldwide protests against racial injustice, Todd Golub sent a note to the Broad community.

Broadies,

I’m writing today with a personal reflection as a Broad leader struggling to determine how the Broad Institute can confront racism.

I was proud to participate in last week’s discussion organized by Shades@Broad around the toxic intersection of privilege and race. As I shared with my fellow ELT members shortly afterwards, it was one of the most emotional and candid conversations I can recall at Broad.

Here’s what I heard: Many are calling for immediate action, having spent years or decades pressing for change with frustratingly few results. Others are newer to this work, and will need to spend time listening and learning. 

Last week’s meeting and larger national events reminded me that racism and structural disparities are a constant across many systems that underpin our country; they are not exceptions.

What’s clear to me is that we must fortify our institutional efforts and initiate new ones, each ‘owned’ by the entire Broad. We must be institutionally accountable as well as individually accountable. 

To drive lasting change, we must also support expanded community efforts, organized by Broadies, that enable authentic opportunities for open, informed conversations that allow us to learn from each other and act as one community.

At the same time, I’m reminded that my perspective comes from a place of privilege, and so while my ideas for change may be well-intended, they cannot truly reflect the fear and persecution that are felt by so many in our community. I’m used to having my voice heard, and I’m used to knowing that my children will be safe. These are basic human rights that should be shared by all. Privilege can make overtly racist acts and daily microaggressions and inequities seem distant, unrelatable, or even invisible. Many of us, including me, have a lot to learn and unlearn.

We are fortunate to live in an intellectual hub like Boston, in a community of people who value data and who like solving really hard problems. While we would rarely accept that scientific challenges are insoluble or should be left to others to solve, we have been too quick to assume that combatting racism is beyond our control. Boston is known for its great universities and its great hospitals, but it is known, too, for its generations-long struggle with issues of race and class. There is no better place for Broadies to act against racism than their own backyard.

I am so grateful to Shades@Broad for creating safe spaces for regular and open conversations with colleagues. And it’s been inspiring to hear about efforts across Broad that are rising up spontaneously to share resources and ideas about how we can all learn to become anti-racists. We’re working on ways to gather these resources and reflections in a single place as another way to keep this discussion ongoing and at the forefront.

Hard problems are never solved overnight. But they must get solved. 

It feels like we may well be at a new tipping point, but we cannot assume that we’re on a clear path to a solution. As an institution, Broad must commit to keeping anti-racism and larger issues of diversity and inclusion as active institutional priorities. We cannot let this moment pass and return to looking the other way. 

We must own this -- as individuals and as an institution committed to change. Defeating racism should become a regular part of our team meetings, program meetings and scientific retreats. 

The weeks ahead must be about turning this aspiration into action -- even if it’s not obvious today what action will have the greatest impact. Many Broadies may choose to participate in the  Strike For Black Lives and #ShutdownSTEM events on Wednesday. We support you, and these efforts. We also plan to designate an entire day later in the summer for anti-racism focused learning and activism. This is not a distraction from our science; it is core to our ability to achieve our scientific mission.

 

Todd