Sticky Notes of Thoughts

…because some thoughts are worth remembering

On Race and Gender and Genetics


Many have quoted that “there are no wrong questions, except for the ones that are not posed”.  But we need to also remember that some questions are better addressed with a counter-question, to challenge our assumptions and to dig deeper into the minds of how and why the question is being framed that way.

During a Q&A session of an event hosted by the Center of Inquiry. Neil deGrasse Tyson responded to the question “Are there genetics between men and women that explain why more men are in science?”

In a classic deGrasse Tyson manner, he started his response with “I have never been female, but I have been black my whole life,” and proceeded to offer his thoughts as he observed “many similar social issues related to access to equal opportunity” for the black community as well as community of women in a white dominated society.

Because he knew he wanted to do astrophysics since he was 9 years old, he said he “got to see how the world around me reacted to my expressions of these ambitions,”

“The fact I wanted to be a scientist and astrophysicist, all I can say is that it was hands down the path of most resistance through the forces of society. I wanted to become something outside of the paradigms of expectations of the people in power.”

Now that he is “one of the most visible scientists in the land” and when he looks back behind him to see who else, he finds none, and wonders why not? Why did he survive the forces of society thrown at him at every turn and others not?

He then shared an experience where he went shopping and the security alarm went off. He was stopped but a white male who walked through the security gate at the same time was not and walked off (presumably with the stolen goods), knowing deGrasse Tyson would be stopped at the gate and not him.

“So my life experience tells me that when you don’t find blacks and women in the sciences, I know these forces are real. and I have to survive them in order to get to where I am today. So before we start talking about genetic differences you gotta come up with a system where there is equal opportunity then we can have that conversation.

I say amen to this prayer for equal opportunity.

Photo: Dragon motif is common in Alesund, Norway, known for its art nouveau architecture


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This entry was posted on August 30, 2015 by in Culture, Quotes and tagged , , , , , , .
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