Physicists saying what needs to be said

Over 400 of them.


A sample:

Before Justice’s Scalia’s remarks on black scientists, Justice Roberts asked, “what unique perspective does a minority student bring to physics class?” and “What [are] the benefits of diversity… in that situation?” Before addressing these questions directly, we note that is important to call attention to questions that weren’t asked by the justices, such as, “What unique perspectives do white students bring to a physics class?” and “What are the benefits of homogeneity in that situation?” We reject the premise that the presence of minority students and the existence of diversity need to be justified, but meanwhile segregation in physics is tacitly accepted as normal or good. Instead, we embrace the assumption that minority physics students are brilliant [6] and ask, “Why does physics education routinely fail brilliant minority students?”


2 thoughts on “Physicists saying what needs to be said

  1. It is on the whole a good letter about a serious and important issue, but I can’t for the life of me understand why these discussions can’t be had without the rhetorical silliness exemplified by just the passage excerpted by OP.

    I don’t know what the signatories believe raising these other questions is supposed to do – produce some sort of Eureka moment, or shame status-quoers by their own hypocrisy?

    How would those questions be answered?

    “Why no, we don’t think white students bring unique perspectives to physics classes. Nor does homogeneity provide any benefit. We find things like race irrelevant to the study of graduate level physics, and it is exactly why we do not admit students to such programs with an eye to race or racial homogeneity. Now, shall we return to the question of why diversity provides some benefit?”

    Does anyone think the presence of minority student’s needs to be justified? Does anyone claim that racial segregation in physics classrooms is a good? The questions are instead about what are the best mechanisms to get minority students there, and whether the under-representation is the result of unfair admissions policies, or bias in assessments, or stereotype threat, or lower expectations, or access to quality education going back to pre-k, or any of a host of other issues participants of this blog are completely aware of. Answering the last question, in other words.

    This other nonsense just distracts from the seriousness of both the signatories and the issue.

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