Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Introducing the inaugural DPS-NSBP Speaker awardee: Dr. Jasmine Bayron

 The American Astronomical Society's (AAS) Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) is thrilled to recognize Dr. Jasmine Bayron, from the American Museum of Natural History and City University of New York. Dr. Bayron is the first awardee from the new Joint Speaker Program established between DPS and the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP), Earth and Planetary Systems Sciences (EPSS) section, based on her excellent NSBP 2021 meeting presentation, “Moapa Valley (CM1): The Black Box of the CM Parent Asteroid.” As the Joint DPS-NSBP Program Speaker, Dr. Bayron has been invited to speak at the DPS 2022 meeting, with expenses covered by DPS. She also will be speaking at the Howard University Physics Department Colloquium Series, with support provided by the Planetary Geology, Geophysics and Geochemistry Laboratory at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. The full AAS press release on Dr. Bayron’s selection can be found at https://dps.aas.org/news/inaugural-dps-nsbp-speaker-awardee-dr-bayron and information about the DPS-NSBP partnership can be found at https://dps.aas.org/leadership/nsbp_parnership. 

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Black History Month Star Profiles


Happy March y'all! It's no longer the official Black History Month, but Black excellence is the past, present and future. It's ongoing and we want to keep highlighting amazing Black scientists! Today we have Derod Deal!

Derod Deal (he/him), McNair Scholar and University of Florida '23

Monday, February 28, 2022

Black History Month Star Profiles


Happy Black History Month! We know we've come to the end of February, but Black excellence is to be celebrated every day of the year. We'll post our remaining interviews and more in the coming weeks. Next up: Caleb Levy!

Caleb Levy (he/him), Colgate University '23 

Monday, February 21, 2022

Black History Month Star Profiles

Happy Black History Month! As we celebrate Black ancestors, leaders, creators, teachers, and scientists who are our bedrock and inspiration, we also want to uplift the brilliant members of our astrophysics community who are our Black Present and Black Future. We'll be posting interviews over the next couple of weeks of several scientists, talking about their work, what inspired them to pursue science, and what Black History Month means to them. First up: Kiersten Boley.

Kiersten Boley (she/her), OSU PhD Candidate, NSF Graduate Research Fellow

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Justice and Equity for Black People in the United States

As cities have burned across the United States of America over the past few days, it has highlighted the deep-rooted issues in the United States of America. This message does not speak on behalf of Black People in the United States of America, but is crafted from the perspective of a Black Person in the United States of America.

If you do not actively and consistently assist, advocate, or support Black People and Black Communities in your regular activities then you are part of the problem.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated, "He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."

George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmad Aurbery are just four of the countless Black lives that were lost due to police brutality and, more importantly, not given the justice they deserved. These are not isolated incidents, and they stem from a much longer and broader history of the erasure of Black humanity in this country.

You may ask, "Where do I even start?" Well, the first step is education. African American descendants of slaves have generated over a Trillion dollars (conservative estimates) in wealth to the American Colonies and the United States since the first documented slaves were brought to the continent around 1619 (article link). Restitution, reperations (not just monetary), and reconcilliation were never fully achieved even after the so-called abolishment of slavery with the 13th Amendment (video link) after the U.S. Civil War. The Reconstruction Era (video link) was supposed to accomplish this, but white America broke the promise to Black America.

Hence, the frustration seen in the streets of these cities is not new, has continually been brewing for decades, and is a result of perpetual discrimination in many aspects of American society, including but not limited to:

A. Financial Industry and Wealth (video link and study link) - Including housing (video link), banking (video link and article link), and a cumulative "Black Tax" (video link and book link) which is a starting estimate to any monetary reparation.

B. Education System - College entrance exams (video link). Some University statistics (web link).

C. Political System - "Redlining" (article link), policing (video link #1 and video link #2), and government systems (video link). Including after "Reconstruction" (video link).

D. Health Care System - Including experiments on black people (video introduction) and inequities highlighted by COVID-19 (article link).

These information links are all introductory and by no means equivalent to the exhaustive studies, articles, and investigations that have been conducted. The intent is to spark your interest in learning more and then taking action. All of these areas need to be repaired for true reconciliation to occur. Thus, there have been, are, and will be numerous opportunities for you to develop, fund, and volunteer your time for programs, initiatives, and events that benefit Black People and the Black Community. The choice is up to you to pick which ways you want to contribute, but pick some and work to Make America Great (M.A.G.) for the FIRST time!

For those who are able to put their money to action, here is a non-exhaustive list of donation opportunities:

 This statement is co-signed by members of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Committee for the Status of Minorities in Astronomy (CSMA), in alphabetical order:

  • Camille Avestruz 
  • Alyson Brooks 
  • Nicole Cabrera Salazar 
  • Lía Corrales 
  • Kate Daniel 
  • Louise Edwards 
  • Samaiyah Farid 
  • Erin Flowers 
  • Keith Hawkins 
  • Audra Hernández 
  • Moiya McTier 
  • Christopher S. Moore 
  • Carlos Vargas 

 The views and opinions expressed in this statement and links to related materials are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the American Astronomical Society.

Monday, December 30, 2019

In preparation for AAS 235: Reflections from CSMA Co-Chair

Updated with words and input from Dr. Brittany Kamai, 2020-01-03

The AAS Committee for the Status of Minorities in Astronomy is deeply committed to advocating for minoritized groups in our profession, as well as developing and educating allies within our community. As part of this mission, we feel it is imperative to acknowledge that astronomical facilities occupy Maunakea, a sacred site for Native Hawaiians that is also the most valued ground-based research location for many astronomers from around the world. It is important to recognize that the TMT construction and continued occupation of Maunakea is just one facet to the history of land use in Hawai’i, and thus should be viewed in the larger context of colonization.

We also wish to acknowledge the spectrum of viewpoints and complex relationships that Native Hawaiians have with the astronomy research community. Hawaiian peoples also have a long history of technological prowess and astronomical navigation. We strongly encourage all astronomers, particularly those who will be in Honolulu for the AAS meeting this January, to engage respectfully with Hawaiian culture by listening to the local dialogue and engaging in Hawaiian ways of thinking.

We strongly encourage AAS attendees to familiarize themselves with the Envision Maunakea report, which was distilled from a set of open listening sessions meant to engage the Maunakea community in productive dialogue.

On October 31, CSMA hosted a speaking session on the culture of Maunakea at the annual SACNAS meeting (Society for the Advancement of Chicanx/Hispanics and Native American Scientists), which also took place in Honolulu. As the largest gathering of Native American STEM researchers in the country, this meeting offered the opportunity to engage and support Native Hawaiian scientists in unprecedented ways. We list here a short summary of lessons learned from this event.
  • There is no monolith of thought from Native Hawaiians on the future of Maunakea. There are Hawaiians who believe the construction is directly inline with Hawaiian values whereas there are Hawaiians who believe that the construction will lead to desecration of a sacred place.
  • The Maunakea demonstrators are not anti-astronomy or anti-science.
  • “Pono science” is the Hawaiian way of holistically doing science including how one engages with communities, other disciplines and self. 
  • Demonstrators on Maunakea are not “protestors”. They are kia’i (protectors) of the land and environment. Not all Native Hawaiians are kia'i.
  • The kia’i will always stand to protect their Mauna against the building of TMT.
  • “Kapu Aloha,” a compassionate commitment to pono (truth) and reverent loving, is the guiding principle and code of conduct of the protectors. 
  • Learning the Hawaiian language is one of the best ways to engage with and understand Hawaiian culture and values. There are over a hundred professional astronomers engaged in Hawaiian language courses, and you can now learn Hawaiian on Duolingo. We encourage visitors to Hawai’i to check it out. 
  • Those looking to stand in solidarity need to understand that there is not one mind on this. Represent your views not what you perceive as all Native Hawaiians views.
  • When discussing this topic, understand that this is an emotionally-complex topic for everyone. Ensure that you engage in conversations with respect. If you are not in a place to engage in respectful conversation then step away. Choose words of compassion as you seek to understand where someone is coming from.

AAS 235 events related to indigenous culture and astronomy

  • ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center (Exhibit hall)
  • Workshop: Astronomy Communication and Science Engagement with Religious Publics (Saturday, Jan 4, 12:30 - 4 pm)
  • Special Session: Innovative Collaborations of Integrity with the Hawaiian Community
    (Sunday, Jan 5, 10 - 11:30 am) 
  • Plenary: He Lani Ko Luna, A Sky Above: In Losing the Sight of Land You Discover the Stars, Kala Baybayan Tanaka and Kālepa Baybayan (Polynesian Voyaging Society)
    (Sunday, Jan 5, 11:40 am - 12:30 pm) 
  • Public Event: Stargazing Party
    (Sunday, Jan 5, 7-10 pm, Ala Moana Beach Park) 
  • Special Session: The Many Facets of Hawai'i Astronomy
    (Monday, Jan 6, 2 - 3:30 pm) 
  • Plenary Lecture: Amy Kalili ('Ōiwi TV)
    (Monday, Jan 6, 3:40 - 4:30 pm) 
  • Public Talk: Physics of Pō, Larry Kimura (College of Hawaiian Language & Hawaiian Studies) and Doug Simons (Canada- France-Hawai'i Telescope)
    (Monday, Jan 6, 7 - 8:30 pm) 
  • Local Student Education Outreach Event
    (Tuesday, Jan 7, 11:30 am - 2 pm) 
  • Special Session: Astronomy and Culture - Best Practices for Systematic Transformation in an Increasingly Diverse and Interconnected Global Society
    (Tuesday, Jan 7, 2 - 3:30 pm) 
  • An Evening with the Maunakea Observatories
    (Tuesday, Jan 7, 7 - 9 pm) 

Additional Reading

Native Hawaiian voices on TMT:
Imua TMT

2019 SACNAS Guidelines on how to be a good guest in Hawai’i

Envision Maunakea Report

This collection of  resources was led by Dr. Brittany Kamai for the SACNAS 2019 conference attendees. Input was recieved from a spectrum of views of Native Hawaiians and astronomers. This is not a comprehensive list rather a starting point. We recieved permission to share this list here.

Astro2020 APC White paper: “A Hua He Inoa: Hawaiian Culture-Based Celestial Naming

Meyer, Manu (2001). “Our own liberation: Reflections on Hawaiian epistemology.” The Contemporary Pacific: A Journal of Island Affairs. Volume 13, number 1, Spring 2001, pp. 124-148.

Meyer, M. A. (2014). “Holographic epistemology: Native common sense.” Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology, 3435-3443.

Detours: A Decolonial Guide to Hawai’i

The views and opinions expressed in this statement and links to related materials are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the AAS or all individual CSMA members.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Statement on #TMTShutdown

(Caleb Jones/Associated Press)

Statement on #TMTShutdown

Dear fellow astronomers,

On Wednesday, July 17th, 2019 riot police arrested dozens of Kānaka Maoli
(Native Hawaiian) elders who were peacefully protesting the construction of the
Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea. Land protectors continue to resist
in the face of military force after Governor David Ige declared a state of emergency
and ordered the National Guard. 

Along with racist, islamophobic, and anti-immigrant rallies hosted by the U.S.
president as well as human rights violations by immigration officers at the U.S.
border, these arrests are a continuation of the United States’ long and dark
tradition of scientific imperialism and colonization. The “controversy” surrounding
TMT has never been about science vs. religion - a dismissive, anti-Indigenous
argument that has been used to defend the economic and political interests of this
project. Rather, it is an issue of Hawaiian sovereignty.

As members of the Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy (CSMA),
we stand with the Kānaka Maoli land protectors. We implore the astronomy
community to consider the cost of valuing research objectives above human beings.

Call to Action: 

Please read, sign, and share widely the Open Letter Opposing Criminalization of
Mauna Kea Protectors written by graduate students Sal Wanying Fu and Mia de los
Reyes. We thank Sal and Mia for their emotional labor in putting this together.

You may also consider donating to the Mauna Kea Legal Defense Fund to support
Kānaka Maoli activists on the ground.


Dra. Nicole Cabrera Salazar
Dr. Lia Corrales
Prof. Kathryne J Daniel
Prof. Keith Hawkins
Erin Flowers
Prof. Alyson Brooks
Brianna Thomas
Prof. Adam Burgasser

The above signatories are private citizens exercising their constitutional right to
express their personal views. This is not an official statement by the CSMA nor the
AAS and should not be construed as such.

Links and resources

Video of Kānaka Maoli Arrests (shared by @KaraokeComputer on Twitter)