Scientists Join Take A Knee Movement To Protest Against Systemic Racism


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer


Scientists at Veenemalab take a knee in protest against racism. @veenemalab via Twitter

Scientists are no strangers to protesting the atrocious nature of the Trump administration – from forming a resistance movement online to actually trying to displace anti-scientific legislators, they’ve been there. Now it seems that they’ve joined the Take A Knee protest that began back in 2016 with American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

As has been widely covered in the news, Kaepernick first started to sit down, then kneel, several games last year during a performance of The Star-Spangled Banner. He did so to protest against the systematic racism inherent in American society, particularly when it came to the treatment of black people by law enforcement.


Then, just this month, the President said at a rally in Alabama – to rapturous applause – that he feels NFL players who kneel during the national anthem should be fired. In response, plenty more NFL players (and their coaches and managers) across the country have begun kneeling in protest. It has since spread to lawmakers at the US Capitol, and now it seems scientists have joined in too.


Although some kneelers are protesting generally against the President – much to the chagrin of proponents of Kaepernick’s original message – it appears plenty of scientists are still keen to highlight systemic racism, but this time in academia.


“Why should #ScientistsTakeAKnee?” asks Leo Stein, a postdoctoral researcher at Caltech, on Twitter. “It’s a common trope to represent science as objective and apart from the difficulties of society… but scientists are people. You can’t separate science from society.”


“We have systemic racism. White men (eg me) are hugely overrepresented,” he explains. “To be a good scientist, I have to be honest about my privilege.”


Theanne Griffith, a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University, has taken a knee to “remind those who forget [that] science is plagued by racism, too.” Fellow scientist Isabel Warner takes a knee with two of her colleagues in support of Kaepernick. “We affirm that #BlackLivesMatter,” she explains.


From researchers in the Arctic Circle to assistant professors and students all across America, it seems like Kaepernick’s actions – and the President’s bluster – have encouraged thousands of scientists to take up this new form of protest. As you can imagine, those of a more virulent disposition are not best pleased.


Who knew you could fit so many inaccurate tropes into just one tweet?

[H/T: Quartz]


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