We need more voices

Dear President Trump,

I don’t know what you did today or where things stand with your shameful insistence that families be separated at the border. I bet, though, that you are still flailing between blaming the Democrats and taking credit for inflicting misery on asylum seekers. Even though the specifics of your cruelties are a crapshoot, you are tiresomely predictable in foisting at least one major new one on us every week. I think if someone were charting the correlation between the mean shit you do and the Russia investigation revelations, it would be almost perfect. Russia revelation Monday => Distracting cruelty inflicted Tuesday.

What I really want to tell you about tonight, though, is how things have changed at the alcohol research conference I was attending in San Diego this past week. I’ve gone to it annually for most of the last 30 years and in the beginning almost all of the players were middle aged white men. There were two or three prominent white women and one prominent black woman, but that was it. Although it’s still the case that white men comprise the largest group of attendees and speakers, the gender balance seemed much better this year on both counts. I also saw several men acknowledge and promote the work of their female colleagues. It was really refreshing.

Though the numbers were still small, there were more under-represented minorities at the podium this year than I’ve ever seen. However, as far as I can tell, no African American scientists presented their work. There were more of them attending the conference than at past meetings, but at least at the symposia I attended, no members of this group spoke. It’s a start that they are in the room now, but I so hope that next year there are five or six (or more!) telling us about their research on novel medication compounds or innovative ways of tracking social dispersion of interventions or whatever they want to tell us about.

Things are changing for the better in lots of ways in spite of you, but I’m so looking forward to when we are finished with all of the attempts to drag us back to some idealized great white (male dominated) existence that was limiting for everyone and absolutely suffocating for some.

May we all be safe to shine.
May we be happy to make space for those who’ve not gotten a chance at the podium.
May we see that healthy, invigorating diversity makes for stronger science.
May we see that the path to peace needs to accommodate us all.

Tracy Simpson

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