A group of chemistry undergraduate students, graduate students, postdocs, and staff recently became aware of a national movement to #ShutDownSTEM on Wednesday, June 10th. We have a responsibility as scientists to educate ourselves and initiate and continue difficult but necessary conversations on race and how systemic racism impacts ourselves and our field, particularly through the lens of recent events and how we can better support, amplify, and listen to our Black community members within the department and within our larger communities. These conversations are critical for us to engage in, and taking a day off research (where feasible) to delve into and discuss these issues is necessary for the health of the department and for movement towards a progressive and equitable community. Additionally, to quote from the #ShutDownSTEM website, “Black academic and Black STEM professionals are hurting because they exist in and are attacked by institutional and systemic racism. Black people have been tirelessly working for change, alongside their Indigenous and People of Color allies. For Black academics and STEM professionals, #ShutDownAcademia and #ShutDownSTEM is a time to prioritize their needs— whether that is to rest, reflect, or to act— without incurring additional cumulative disadvantage.” We publicly support this aspect of the #ShutDownSTEM day as well. 

From the shutdownstem.com website:

#ShutDownAcademia and #ShutDownSTEM is an initiative from a multi-identity, intersectional coalition of STEM professionals and academics taking action for Black lives. These efforts build on-- and would not be possible without-- the long history of Black activism, scholarship, and leadership in the fight for Black lives. 

Academia and STEM are global endeavors that sustain a racist system, where Black people are murdered. No matter where you physically live, you impact and are impacted by this moment in history. This is not exclusive to the United States. We must all work against anti-Black racism. 

The names listed below are the visible contributors, which comprise a partial list of contributors to this collective effort : Brittany Kamai, Yilen Gómez Maqueo Chew, Katelyn Breivik, Mia de los Reyes, Jedidah Isler, Brian Nord, Lucianne Walkowicz, Renée Hłozek, Ximena Cid, Abby Crites, Carena Church, Erin-Kate Escobar, Stacey Lawrence, Danielle N. Lee, Casey Newlin, et al.

We hope you will join us in this movement to eradicate racism.

It is not enough to say that you stand in solidarity.
We need you to be accountable.
We need your actions.

We need to see exactly what your short- and long-term plan is to do the work to eradicate racism and create a just, equitable and inclusive STEM field. Your plan should include an actionable goal, steps you will take to reach your goal, and metrics/indicators you will look for to know whether you are successfully moving towards your goal.

When you make the commitment to shut it down, you are making a commitment towards education, action and healing.  

  • Education : If this is new to you, start reading the resource materials; these exist and you need to learn from them. Keep learning by reading books and blogs, watching movies, listening to podcast and following the suggested people on social media.  

  • Action :  Take responsibility to be actively anti-racist in your spaces of influence.  You need to change how things are done and support organization that are continuing this work.

  • Healing : Racism creates this toxic space and those affected need to heal from it.  We need to make time and space for this emotional work to occur.  

Your racism is unique to you and your narrative. You need to do the work to get out of it.
You were not born with the ability to code. You learned it.

You can learn this.

Electronic Resources:

MIT Mental Health*



MIT WorkLife

Institute Discrimination & Harassment Response Office (IDHR)

Office of Multicultural Programs (OMP)

Social Justice Programming & Cross-Cultural Engagement (SPXCE)


*If you have difficulties connecting with a counselor through MIT Medical, please let us know and we will help to connect you with external telemental health resources.