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Solidarity Statement on Charlottesville

August 17, 2017

Dear fellow planetary scientists:

This is a cross-posting in full support of Astronomy in Color’s Statement on Charlottesville.  As members of the Division for Planetary Science’s Professional Culture and Climate Subcommittee, we denounce all forms of hate and racism, and the systematic causes that resulted in this weekend’s events.  White supremacy is wrong and should be stopped.  We would like to offer our full support to the members of the Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy, and thank them for their leadership with this message and their actions within the astronomical community.  We extend our solidarity with planetary scientists of color and will continue to work towards providing a safe, welcoming environment and equal opportunities for all.  And we mean for all, regardless of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability status, and any other identity that makes for the greatest foundation of our existence as human beings, but has no place in becoming the illogical rationale for unnecessary hatred and violence. 

Dr. Christina Richey

Prof. Nancy Chanover 

Dr. Matthew Tiscareno

Prof. Sarah Horst 

Dr. Franck Marchis 

Dr. Julie Rathburn

 *The above signatories are private citizens exercising their constitutional right to express their personal views. This is not an official statement by the DPS, the PCCS, nor the AAS, and should not be construed as such.


Dear fellow astronomers,

Two days ago a group of armed white nationalists disrupted the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, with a message filled with racism and hatred. This message was accompanied with deadly acts of violence. Unsurprisingly, a large portion of the media continues to avoid calling this for what it is: white supremacist terrorism. Sadly, the POTUS failed to unambiguously reject against these hate groups – many of whom inspire the very base that elected him. These instances confirm to astronomers of color that the executive may not have their safety and interest in mind.

These acts of violence are used to cause fear amongst people of color in this country, especially Black folks. These acts are not carried out in a vacuum, but rather they are a part of centuries of orchestrated oppression — a continuation of colonization, slavery, Jim Crow laws, extrajudicial murders by the police and mass incarceration. They are a reflection of a crisis of spirit that this country desperately needs to confront.

Within our field these acts hurt members who already feel isolated and excluded, including but not limited to astronomers of color, especially Black students. The mental, physical and emotional toll experienced by them is damaging to their ability to travel freely, to engage in creative scientific work, and above all, to feel truly safe at their home institutions — especially if those institutions are over-represented by white folks and where a culture of equity and inclusion may not be exercised with intention.  For these reasons, it is critical for astronomy departments around the country and astronomers in leadership positions to do their part to ensure safety and well being.

As members of the Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy (CSMA), we unequivocally denounce the acts of violence that took place in Charlottesville. We also resist the historical and systemic reasons that allowed such events to take place. We reject white supremacist narratives that mask hate toward people of color as “freedom of speech.” We urge all astronomers, especially white astronomers, to renew your commitment against racism[1] in our discipline and in your communities.

We extend our solidarity to every astronomer of color, especially Black astronomers, during these difficult times. We will continue to do everything we can to protect you and we will fight for you.


Prof. Jorge Moreno

Charee Peters, Ph.D Candidate

Dr. Nicole Cabrera Salazar

Prof. Keith Hawkins

Prof. Kate Daniel

Prof. Jillian Bellovary

Prof. Adam Burgasser

Prof. John A. Johnson

Dr. Lia Corrales

Prof. Alyson Brooks

Prof. Kim Coble


The above signatories are private citizens exercising their constitutional right to express their personal views. This is not an official statement by the CSMA nor the AAS and should not be construed as such.


Links and resources

If You Can’t Be In Charlottesville, VA To Protest, Here Are Some Things You CAN Do

Medical fund for Comrades in Cville

4 Self-Care Resources for Days When the World is Terrible

5 Self-Care Practices Black People Can Use While Coping With Trauma

Media Exposure to Violence: 5 Tips to Help Children

How to Support Black People After Incidents of Police Violence

How To Actually Be An Ally To Students Of Color On College Campuses (And Beyond)

Safety Pin Box: White People Can Now Pay for Those ‘How Not to Be Racist’ Lessons

The Southern Poverty Law Center

[1] Racism is defined as the combination of racial prejudice plus power that results in differences in life outcomes between racial groups, such that white people are systematically advantaged compared to people of color.

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