More than just victims

There are so many excellent articles out there about the significance of the murder of young Michael Brown and how his case was handled by the authorities.

Here is a very thorough and impartial summary of the court’s findings provided by the CBC. Warning, it’s still pretty infuriating.

The BBC featured some very interesting reactions to the shooting and protests from other nations Here.

The Globe and Mail featured a hopeful article discussing ways in which people have come together to get momentum building to cause meaningful change here.

Even Cracked has done a bit of investigative journalism on the matter, and their results are also pretty infuriating.

There are many many more and now with Tamir Rice things continue to escalate, but that isn’t actually what I’d like to talk about, because black people are much much more than their involvement with police.

What I’d like to talk about is the awesome stuff black people have done when they weren’t being shot dead in the street for the crime of having built in SPF15.

percy juliaPercy Julian

Born in Alabama to the children of former slaves, Percy must have loved the fuck out of science, because it hated the hell out of him. He went to university right after middle school because no high school in Alabama would take a black kid. The dude still managed to graduate like a boss, having to travel to Europe to find a university willing to give him a shot at a PhD, and became one of the most influential chemists in American history.

How influential, you ask? Why, do you like not going blind from glaucoma? Do you like not being crippled by unbearable arthritis pain? How about chocolate? You like chocolate?

You can thank Dr. Julian for suffering a lifetime of bullshit (like not being able to take a job because the town had a law against black people sleeping there) so that he could bring amazing discoveries to the world, like affordable glaucoma medication, cortisone for arthritis, and chocolate preservatives. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, so go here to learn more.

Ralph Buncheralph bunche

Dr. Bunche may have been the very first person to crowdsource his education. The black community in LA pooled a thousand bucks together to help Ralph pursue grad school at Harvard. He used that education to become a professional peace keeper. He traveled the world with the UN and is noted for doing the impossible – facilitating a treaty between the Israelis and Palestinians just after the declaration of the State of Israel. Regardless of what side you fall on, that is one hell of an achievement, and he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for it.

In fact, he got a reputation for succeeding where others failed because he treated people (stop me if this is too weird a concept) as fundamentally equal, and this resonated like hell with people for some reason. He laid the groundwork for dismantling colonial systems all over the world and guiding those nations in their first steps of freedom.

You can learn about Dr. Bunche in this amazingly well researched Wiki article.

george carruthersGeorge Carruthers

He loves science fiction, which automatically put him in my good books. When not enjoying a good read, he invented a camera that can record ultraviolet light in space. This meant that for the first time, we could see the particles that made up the universe in their resting state, which taught us a slew of things including the fact that oxygen doesn’t only come from plants, what impact pollution has on our ozone layer, and the levels of radiation that emanate from comets. His work helped us better understand not only the stars but our place among them.

He was also a devoted educator and still sits on a number of astronomical associations. Learn more about him here.

These guys are just examples, and let’s get very real here for a second and remember that they had to fight what most people would consider insurmountable odds to accomplish what they have. They are far bigger people than most of us to be shunned, ostracized, discriminated against, and still choose to contribute to that same awful world in such significant ways.

We owe it to the men and women of colour who gave their life to public service to honour their memory by fostering a new generation of inventors, scientists, intellectuals, educators, and professionals not restricted by arbitrary genetics. While Neil Degrasse Tyson is a remarkable human being, we shouldn’t be able to count the number of recognizable scientists of colour on one finger.

They deserve so much better.


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