Ordovas-Montanes Lab Statement on Anti-Racism in Science and Society

June 5, 2020

The Ordovas-Montanes lab at Boston Children’s Hospital stands in solidarity with and in support of the Black community over the perpetual disregard for Black lives within America. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Atatiana Jefferson, and others are part of America’s long legacy of racial violence against Black people. Before there was Ahmaud Arbery, there was Louis Allen; before there was Sandra Bland, there was Eleanor Bumpurs; before there was Amy Cooper, there was Carolyn Bryant. These lives lost as well as countless others that have been taken by state-sanctioned police brutality are all direct consequences of the deeply-seeded racism, colonialism, and genocide ingrained in the fabric and founding of our nation, present in every facet of Black life from housing and employment to healthcare delivery and media representation. Science is no different; from the case of Henrietta Lacks to the Tuskegee Study, or the insidious experimentation carried out by the “father of modern gynecology,” J. Marion Sims, science has never been apolitical or without racism. Scientists have often excused the behaviors of specific individuals in their pursuit of inventions and discoveries. We cannot ignore the fact that scientific institutions have been intertwined with and condoned the racism that exists within society.

The Ordovas-Montanes lab believes and will continue to believe, without reservation, that Black Lives Matter, as does Black joy, Black wellbeing, Black health, Black opportunity, and Black justice. Black lives matter, and until we dedicate ourselves to the complete dismantlement of white supremacy, we will continue to illustrate to our Black colleagues and community that we do not fully support that statement. Words alone will not bring about the long overdue institutional transformation needed in this moment. Systemic problems require systemic solutions; as such, the work needed to bring about an equitable, anti-racist, and just society requires widespread action that continues long after public outrage has quieted down. This action cannot be enacted by the Black community alone. As a lab, we are dedicated to doing our part both in and out of scientific institutions to stand with and listen to the Black community in its anger, sadness, and grief and take the steps necessary to facilitate healing and change toward an actively anti-racist future. Dedication to helping the Black community at this time does not mean we are not dedicated to helping other marginalized communities as well. This historical moment is the culmination of a distinctly Black history in America, and it is essential that we call attention to it and give it full recognition and respect.

As a collective, the Ordovas-Montanes lab commits to:
Learn, Listen, and Speak Out
  • Self-educate ourselves and our communities on the pervasiveness of white supremacy and racism, in order to acknowledge and address the ways in which we help to perpetuate and benefit from white supremacy
  • Foster an environment that is conducive to physical and mental wellbeing, that is not only aware of how bias and racism work to benefit us all, but one that actively works against bias and racism at the same time by first participating in anti-racist, cultural competency training
  • Understand that our voices can often travel to places that Black voices often cannot: we vow to use our platform, no matter how small, to raise awareness on issues of racial injustice and oppression while following and uplifting Black voices whenever possible
  • Hold space for our Black colleagues and friends, actively listening to them and centering their voices as a means to understand how we can best support them and their needs
  • Write and establish a list of lab values and ensure that discriminatory behaviors and language are not acceptable at any time within our lab and our communities
  • Ensure that our work is not supported by, or in collaboration with, racist organizations or people
  • Ensure that the division of all labor in the lab is just and that all members get a fair say in lab decision making
Take Action
  • Invite Black graduate students, postdocs, and principal investigators to speak at prominent seminar series
  • Make diversity statements an essential part of the hiring process for any research managerial (i.e. principal investigators) or administrative managerial (i.e. executives and directors) position in our institutions
  • Regularly hold all researchers, students, and staff, especially those in managerial and leadership positions, measurably accountable for promoting diversity in order for them to remain in good standing with their departments and graduate programs
  • Encourage the participation of Black students and researchers in science, especially within our lab, through funded positions, personal and scientific mentorship, and lab participation in community-based programs across all ages
  • Advocate for the recruitment, retention, advancement, and mentorship of more Black graduate students and researchers within the Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard University community through social and financial support as well as resource allocation
  • Write letters of recommendation and award nominations for Black students, researchers, and colleagues
  • Reference and promote the work of Black researchers, inviting them to co-author grants and papers
  • Donate to community-based organizations that have long been involved in anti-racist, anti-police brutality work, such as the National Bail Fund Network, The Innocent Project, the Community Coalition, Reclaim the Block, and the Coalition of Communities of Color

The fight for justice is one that demands lifelong dedication, and we acknowledge and amplify the tireless efforts of Black organizers who have long been committed to the battle for liberation. Black people have been forced to endure centuries of social, political, and economic oppression, and it is up to the rest of us within non-Black communities to educate ourselves on these histories so that we may better use our privilege to advocate for change. Black lives should not only begin to matter in the face of Black death. The Ordovas-Montanes lab is dedicated to working alongside the Black community and other victims of marginalization, repression, and oppression in an effort to build a just and equitable future for all. A new and just world is possible, but only if we fight for it.

In solidarity and support,
Jose Ordovas-Montanes
Amanda Hornick
Sam Kazer
Faith Taliaferro
Ben Doran
Marko Vukovic
Peter Lotfy
Joshua de Sousa Casal
Martin Axegard