Anti-Racism Resources

This is neither definitive nor a check list. It is a starting place for resources to help you on your journey to fighting white supremacy and racism in our society. I’ll update it as people find interesting things. Let me know if links go bad.

  1. Write down your overall goals and expectations for participating in this challenge, and be as specific as possible. Do not just think about them – write them down somewhere where you can review this in six months and assess your progress.
  2. Complete the worksheet: “Making it Concrete for White People”
  3. Watch this wonderful video about privilege. “Sometimes you’re the caterpillar”
  4. Research anti-white supremacy and undoing racism workshops in your area and make and keep plans to attend. If there are none near you, find videos online from workshops and make and keep plans to actively watch and engage with them.
  5. Assess the racial makeup of your workplace or classroom. Conduct your own thorough and sincere research into the background of why it is the way it is (whether it is very racially diverse or very not diverse). Identify key components behind why it is the way it is, share your findings with the people in charge and with your coworkers/classmates, and brainstorm ways or flag for future hiring that you can make sure you’re doing the most outreach you can and addressing barriers to hiring or acceptance for students.
  6. Start a conversation in your department about the history of racism and colonialism in science.
  7. Start conversations with family about race issues and engage them in dialogue. Track how the conversations go and build on any progress; consider using books, movies, pop culture, and other cues to launch your conversation.
  8. Gather with a group in person or online to complete the worksheet/workshop: “Creating Anti-Racist Language”
  9. Research what anti-racist organizations or community campaigns there are in your local area by searching the news, Twitter, and facebook for locally organized groups. Engage as is appropriate – respectfully, only when there is an open invitation, and with extra scrutiny on your own participation. There could be individual activist events or you could join a grassroots campaign about an issue disproportionately affecting people of color in your community.
  10. Along similar lines, research what volunteer opportunities you could take on that would serve people of color in your community. Planned Parenthood, LGBTQIA organizations, local food banks or shelters, labor justice organizers, and schools often need committed volunteers.
  11. Go play the “Parable of the Polygons”. Then balance that by looking into gentrification in your area.
  12. Take stock of what media you watch. What is the racial makeup? Who directed/produced it? What is the media broadcasting company that is behind it, and what is the racial makeup of their leadership? How are people of color portrayed on your favorite tv show? In your favorite movie? Consider your findings, and seek out media not just made by and about white people. At the same time, do not appropriate media made by and for people of color as your own – remember your privilege.
  13. Read the following article: “What Is White Supremacy?” by Elizabeth “Betita” Martinez.
  14. Order online, check out from your local library, or otherwise procure at least two (or more depending on your life business) books by people of color or about a historical or specific issue that disproportionately affects people of color. You must not have read them before. You can read a list of suggested books here- If you are differently abled or do not have the financial means to procure these books, you can find a list of PDF books on race online available here- however, be responsible; if you can afford to purchase these books, do that instead.
  15. Set a reading schedule for yourself based on what is feasible. Do not simply reread books by people of color you enjoyed in the past.
  16. Go read “Let Physics Be The Dream It Used To Be” by Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein. Think about the cost to people of color for existing in spaces that are so actively hostile to their presence. Brainstorm ways you can alleviate that cost for your friends and colleagues.
  17. Watch “The Clark Doll Test”. If you have children somewhere in your life, look at their bookshelf and into their toy box and see what changes you might want to make. What is the gender and race of the heroes and villains you present to them?
  18. Watch “The Angry Eye”.
  19. Names matter. Go watch “To All The Little Black Girls With Big Names”. Understand how much we judge on characteristics we think are stand ins for race, like names on job applications. Think about how you’ve applied these kinds of judgements in your life.
  20. Learn about “redlining” as an issue in housing, George Romney, HUD, and the deep wealth gap that has caused in our nation.
  21. Go take (a few) tests and learn about implicit bias. Your subconscious can subvert a lot of good intentions.
  22. Why haven’t we talked seriously about paying reparations for slavery? Many of our institutions are built on the wealth directly sown from slavery.
  23. Professor John Johnson has been blogging hard about issues of race, both inside astronomy and out. Go check out his blog.
  24. Race and gender are often intertwined issues. Mainstream feminism has left behind women of color more often than not. Learn about intersectionality from Professor Kimberlé w. Crenshaw. And then read this.
  25. The idea of being “colorblind” to race is hugely problematic, and not just because the word itself is pretty ableist.
  26. Learn about how our country (over and over again) destroyed (and continues to destroy and undermine) Native American families.
  27. Read the #SayHerName report.

This next part is a direct copy from the YMF group – It is SO IMPORTANT and needed no changing:
White folks participating in this challenge should remember to never take over anti-white supremacy actions or movements. Even if you learn a ton from focusing on this challenge, you will never understand race like someone who has lived as a person of color under white supremacy. But educating yourself, following the lead of people of color who are leading this movement, and by taking concrete actions guided by them and what you are able to learn from them, is essential to addressing your complicity in white supremacy.


Anti-Racism Pro-Astronomy 6 month Challenge

Astronomy has a racism problem.

In fact, our society has a racism problem. We are living out patterns of systemic racism that is so deeply established that those of us that benefit from it completely fail to observe it unless we make an effort to do so.

This is one attempt to make that effort.

The Young Mormon feminist group is the inspiration for this group.

Many people we encounter have good “intentions” when it comes to anti-racism. But a cry we hear far too much is “But what can I do?”. The intention of this exercise is to work on discrete ways and tasks that we can all undertake to decrease the presence of white supremacy in our society and in the systems that underpin it.

We are academics. There are lots of systems.

We are responsible for undoing the racist system that was built for our benefit.

This will be a six month challenge. It is not a contest, but a group exercise. Everyone will set goals and check in EVERY WEEK to report on those goals.

This exercise is for white people. People of color are welcome in the group to observe and comment but are exempt from reporting requirements.

Some recent experience has demonstrated that ground rules are crucial for creating effective anti-racist space. Here they are:

  • To join this group you recognize that white supremacy and racism exists, and you want to do active work to dismantle it. You will be removed from the group if you demonstrate otherwise.
  • You must commit to create an action plan for yourself. You will be actively reporting goals EACH WEEK in our (closed) facebook group.
  • Failure to report progress will result in removal from the group. We won’t all reach our goal every time, but reporting is mandatory.
  • If you fail to report for 2 weeks in a row, or 3 weeks total you will be removed from the group. If you can’t keep up, please remove yourself. It is important that people joining this group understand that this is work it is necessary to prioritize.
  • Ally cookies will be in short supply. This is not a place to get a pat on the head for doing what, if we’re honest, is work that our society (and we) should have started long ago.

Go here to sign up. The intended starting date is June 1st, to give people time to get a little organized.


German squirrels have tufty years. It is frankly adorable.


Putting together a list of symbiotic binaries to check for coverage with gphoton. I’m hoping it is a fast way to keep an eye on data coming in. We’ll see if there’s a better way.


Everyone should read the MANGA fiber paper. I never want to hear anyone complaining about the difficulty of hex-bundle IFUs ever again.



At the HET board meeting…

Got git hub up and running (a little late to the party, but there we go). Forked gphoton. Current available targets is limited, but I’m going to poke around and see how its working and what fields might be available. (installed successfully, ran test commands)

Z andromedae does not appear to be in the first batch. I wonder if there is a way to plot what has already been ingested by RA/DEC? Still going through sample commands.

Stephanie emailed and asked if our galaxies are in CALIFA… We should check. (It is small – 600 galaxies total, 200 galaxies currently released as of 1 October 2014).


Characterization – the saga. There is still an issue with VDAS where the shutter is being triggered prior to the exposure happening on-chip. This results in short exposures (less than 2 seconds) coming up blank.

Tested a new timing file that works on both the VDAS and OWL systems. Finally.


Starting the camera for LRS2B (UV side)


Recent camera, one amp appears to not be reading. Curious question – The alignment team reported a read of several hundred counts, but I get 0. Will play a little more but the amp looks shot…




Doxygen – A way to generate documentation from annotated code (we’re using it for TCS). To make note of for later, although for VDAS we’ll also generate a don’t-touch-the-code Users Manual and then just insert it whole hog into the code for storage/maintenance.

I’m also trying to figure out a convenient tool to commit to for editing LaTex documents together.


Rehabilitating Camera 17 – it had an issue on one (A) side, and I pulled it ages ago. Turns out the flex was also broken (or tore in rehabilitating) – my guess is actually the stress of being installed partially developed a small tear, and when I removed the (functioning) B side it completed the rip. The getter was also old, so I’m replacing it.

Ended up with both an easy to fix thermal short and a slightly less charming thermal short, but both were resolved.



Working with Steve O., John F, etc. to pick a few astrometric bright star fields for eventual commissioning.


I’m trying to make more concrete my ideas about how we can do computer driven discovery in the HETDEX data. I found Pydron as a tool coming online shortly that could be helpful in processing. Mostly literature search to get up to date both on false-detection best practices and the current state of source extraction code.


While looking for some target fields to calibrate VIRUS (if I stop and think about it for a minute I am SO EXCITED I’m even making those plans) I encountered gphoton. This team is putting together web & python tools for interrogating the GALEX time-tagged photon data. SERIOUSLY WORLD CHANGING. It gives the GALEX data a whole new life. It is in beta mode (yeah, I emailed), but hopefully that means online for everyone in the near future.