WHITE COATS, BLACK SCIENTISTS. Scientists often consider their work and their institutions unbiased. After all, scientists rely on a rigorous set of experiments to test hypotheses and arrive at conclusions that inform what the rest of us know to be facts in the world.
And yet history demonstrates how scientific practices have been used to justify systemic racism. Further, the exclusion of Black scientists from institutions, the failure to recognize contributions of Black scientists, and the lack of culturally relevant scientific curricula perpetuates the underrepresentation of Black people and their perspectives in science.
The racial/ethnic disparities in rates of infections and deaths from Covid-19 exposes these long-standing systemic injustices in scientific research, health care, and medicine. Biases are prevalent across all industries and institutions, including scientific ones. Unless scientists and scientific institutions change course — unless science recognizes how past racist scholarship continues to inform present research, and unless it directly addresses racism within its institutions — scientists will fail to ensure the health and well-being of large populations of people.