Wednesday, June 10, 2020

"Science was being the only black person in the program for four years."

The above is a remarkable story of a Black student in biochemistry, Brandon Taylor. He speaks gorgeously about his love for the details of science, so I recommend listening to the whole thing. He also speaks of his alienation in his graduate program due to the fact that he was the only Black graduate student. He doesn't work in science anymore (he's a writer and a novelist). He writes beautifully in his Buzzfeed essay on the same topic:
Science was being the only black person in the program for four years. Science was saying nothing because I was tired of being corrected about the particulars of my own experience. Science was being told that I should consider moving to the other side of town where more black people live. Science was someone suggesting that I find a church in order to find community. Science was having my hair stroked and touched. Science was being told that I was articulate. Science was watching people’s eyes widen slightly in surprise when I told them what program I was in. Science was the constant humiliation of wondering if I had justified my presence or if I had made it harder for the next black person to get admitted. Science was having to worry about that in the first place. 
Science was a place I ultimately left, not so much because I wanted to, but because I had to. Science is not being able to say that because I reflexively feel the rebuttal waiting on the other end of that sentence: You could have made it work if you wanted it enough. Science is not knowing whether I wanted it enough.
Read the whole thing.