Black lives matter. After many years of fights and protests, how sad it is that we still have to be reminded of this simple fact. We are deeply moved by the horror of racist crimes, and we share the frustration and anger that they justly trigger. As evolutionary biologists and members of the European Society of Evolutionary Biology (ESEB), we wish to express solidarity with and support for victims of racism, in the US and all over the world.
While the history of racism has distinct features in the US, much of it has European roots, and we should not overlook the sad fact that European history itself is soaked with the blood of the victims of racism – and that so many of our citizens and immigrants to Europe endure ongoing hardship, prejudice, violence, and uphill battles to succeed and develop as human beings only because of their skin colour or origin.
Evolutionary biology has contributed in a complex way to debates about race, some of which have unfortunately been used to justify racist attitudes. None of the knowledge that we produce can justify discriminating between people according to their origin or skin colour. It seems to us that antiracism is fundamentally a moral standpoint, not a scientific perspective. The outrage that so many of us feel over ongoing racial violence and discrimination in our world may nevertheless prompt us, as members of ESEB, an international learned society that brings diverse people together, to ask what we can do to combat these blights.
How can we make our scientific community more diverse and welcoming? Despite its international profile, ESEB membership remains unrepresentative of human diversity, globally or in Europe. Since its inception in 1987, ESEB has seen a steady increase in the contribution made by women to evolutionary biology and to the life of the society. However, non-Caucasians are severely underrepresented in our research community and in ESEB. We clearly need to maintain efforts to be more inclusive in our reach and activities as a Society, to be alert to the potential influences of unconscious bias to which we are all prone, to adopt and act on policies that increase diversity in many dimensions, and to combat all forms of racism. The ESEB Equal Opportunity committee welcomes suggestions from our members on what more we can do.
ESEB Executive Committee: Ophélie Ronce (President), John Pannell (Secretary), Koen Verhoeven (Executive Vice-President), Wolf Blankenhorn (Editor in Chief, JEB), Mike Ritchie (Evolution Letters Officer)