The United States has a history of racism that undermines, still, the foundations of every institution. Among these institutions is academia. We at MIT have begun to reckon with our own history. But our efforts to end racism in our school and country remain deficient. Even in a department like ours that prides itself on a critical eye toward power, introspection about our role in racist structures and the change demanded of us needs to happen.
We in CMS/W are in a unique position at MIT. Because the Institute’s communications requirement means we teach every undergraduate, we make sure to build a substantial part of our curriculum around how we can document, critique, and dismantle social inequalities.
This position comes with opportunities and responsibilities. An environment lacking diversity cheats its own intellectual life. We must not merely be open to diverse faculty and student applicants but actively recruit candidates and create an explicitly anti-racist climate, and we must constantly assess and improve the support we deliver to community members of underrepresented backgrounds. These are essential elements of what will make CMS/W a better place.
Fundamentally, we must speak and act when there is injustice in front of us. Anti-racism is something we must recommit ourselves to every day, in every class, in every book, talk, meeting, and plan. We will make it more than just polite words on a page. This takes time, but we hope to make that an advantage: looking less to take one-time steps and more to contribute to a community of change.