The American Phytopathological Society’s (APS) governing Council approved on June 5, 2020 the following statement. The APS Committee on Diversity and Equality recommended an initial draft of this statement to Council, which was presented, reviewed, and approved.
The American Phytopathological Society stands in solidarity with the Black community and our peer societies in denouncing racism and prejudice in all forms. We condemn the recent horrendous murders of Mr. George Floyd and Ms. Breonna Taylor at the hands of police officers, and of Mr. Ahmaud Arbery while jogging. These deaths are just the latest manifestations of centuries of hostility, violence, discrimination and exploitation of Black people in this country and many places around the world. The field of plant pathology has always been dominated by white faces and voices, and we explicitly acknowledge that Black scientists enrich our profession and science while shouldering immeasurable burdens. We strive to promote diversity and inclusion in all aspects of APS, and to cultivate a community of excellence and equity. The long-term viability and success of our community is dependent on ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of our efforts. To achieve this, there is more we can and must do to support Black people and other People of Color.
APS Council members and the APS Committee on Diversity and Equality commit to identifying and exploring meaningful ways in which to confront racism more effectively within our scientific communities while providing support for our Black colleagues, students, and staff, as well as the communities and families they serve.
- Call upon APS members to educate themselves about systemic and institutional biases and barriers for Black people and other People of Color, and to speak out against discrimination in their professional and personal circles. We must each hold ourselves and each other accountable, and accept that we have much to learn.
- Pledge to foster a respectful APS environment and fora in which to explore issues of race and other dimensions of diversity within the context of the science and profession of plant pathology.
- Pledge to serve as a conduit to connect APS members with educational and support resources to create more equitable work environments for plant pathologists of all races, colors, national origins, genders, sexual orientations, and abilities.
- Create, facilitate and/or deliver diversity, inclusion and equity training as a fundamental, integral and widely accessible part of annual society meetings, regional meetings, and outreach activities. This may take any of several forms including meeting workshops, sessions, plenary presentations, webinars, etc.
- Commit to reviewing and updating, as warranted, our diversity, inclusion, and equity pledge, governing policies, and societal practices to identify and rectify biases, discriminatory language or practices, and structural barriers that reduce the access of our diverse members to APS resources.
In this troubling time, it has been very heartening to hear from so many APS members asking APS leadership to seek ways to support our Black colleagues and to stand for justice more effectively. Thank you! You have been heard and we share your passion, concern, and commitment. The work ahead will not be easy. It will require broad participation of APS membership and we accept that we have much to learn. But the journey towards a more equitable APS must start with a firm commitment to our Black colleagues, and that commitment starts here and now.
With much respect,
Lindsey du Toit
Immediate Past President
Internal Communications Officer
Immediate Past Chair, Committee on Diversity & Equality
Vice Chair, Committee on Diversity & Equality
Immediate Past President, APS Potomac Division; Member, Committee on Diversity & Equality