Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Race and Science Blogging - What's really going on?

Serendipitously, I stumbled on an online conversation among members of the ScienceBlogs.com community. Seems most of the community's science bloggers are white and only 3 bloggers are known to be people of color.

What's up with that? has been the question for most. It has been addressed and cross-linked a million times. It's worth the read and click through.
Where Are the Science & Race Blogs? originally posted October 2006
OMG! ScienceBorgTM is like totally racist! (Updated)
Why more racial diversity in the science blogosphere would be a good thing
Jello Salad is a Weird Ethnic Food
White privilege and raising a child (Mommy Monday)

In response to these questionsWhy is there a lack of racial diversity among science bloggers?
I have the following to say:

My blog specifically deals with race, socio-economics, and science.

One of my aims/soapbox issues is that science topics are relatively rare in the Black Blogosphere and I try to infuse/share more science among African-American bloggers.
A major issue with the lack of racial diversity in science blogging involves identifying the number of Bloggers of color who are in science/engineering fields - whether or not they blog about race issues.
In my personal efforts to identify Science Bloggers of Color, I only know 4 that I discovered through Black Blog Rankings:
Raw Dawg Buffalo
Karen Venti
Urban Science Adventures
Diary of a PhD Student -AfroSpear member
5 if you count African-American Environmentalist Association (and I hesitate to count it, but they do blog about these environmental issues and race matters)

Since reading these aforementioned posts from ScienceBlogs, I've discovered 3 more -
Babe in the Universe - Latina (I think) Cosmology or Astronomy
Ed of Not Exactly Rocket Science - Biomedical Research
and that last guy on the evidence page. (I've obviously never ran across the blog, before. Sorry, I can't link it.

Correction, 4 more blogs.
Clifford Johnson of Cosmic Variance and Asymptotia and for the PBS Show Wired Science group Blog Correlations - Physics
K8, Cat, Mission blogs about science, academia, feminism and race issues, but I think she's a person of pallor


McMoots said...

Whoever put that photo page together missed Razib at Gene Expression. His profile pic had his light-colored cat in front of his face at the time, so I suppose it's understandable... and that unknown blogger is Selva of the Scientific Indian. Who used to run a carnival of Indian science blogging, the Scian Melt, which was doing quite well at mixing science with cultural issues until it petered out in the way that these things sometimes do.

The Urban Scientist said...

Thanks Maria, I've been clicking away on every single page to find him. At least I increased some traffic and learned some great stuff.

Razib is an enigma to me - he's white, he's Asian. Even Bora's interview with him didn't clear things up...but if we go by US (American) standards of the "one drop rule - he's a person of color, nuff said.

Still an interesting topic to tackle and so worth it, in my opinion.

Veronica said...

Do you consider Computer Science to be one of the sciences?

Exquisitely Black

The Urban Scientist said...

Veronica Henry: yes, just an oversight - I'm admittingly biased towards natural sciences.

Francis Holland said...

One thing you could do to help science among African-Americans is to stop using the word "race." Haven't you gotten the memo? "Race" doesn't exist as a matter of science! If scientists don't lead the way in speaking of the universe in terms of the way it is rather than based on color-aroused ideation, emotion and behavior, then who is going to lead us in the direction of science?

The Urban Scientist said...

FH: You're right. Race is a social construct and scientists (at least biologists) are aware that fact.

However, dealing with diversity issues still means we tackle this icky monster called 'race' or perhaps a better term is ethnicity. In this circumstance, I (and the other bloggers I tag) mean representatives from the entire human family, not just those with an obvious European ancestry.

And let me tell you. Scientists use 'official' languaage all the time to discuss the world the way it is. And we're accused of being obtuse or using too much jargon or unnecessarily complicated or godless. We're told to speak more directly and in a way the broader public can understand. So speaking scientifically accurately all of time means 1 of 2 things.
1) we have lecture people to get them understand the "right" way of defining the world...risk - being condescending, taking too much time to get to the main point.
2)talk mainly to people who already have half a notion of what we're talking about...risk - leaving way to many people out of the conversation.

It's a tangle.