The killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minnesota last week, and the ensuing protests that have spread across the United States, have been stark reminders that anti-Black violence, systemic racism and injustice are daily facts of life for many people. The outpouring of grief, outrage, fear and frustration has been felt across the world, including among the communities of eLife. We have listened and reflected. Upon that reflection, it is clear that we, as an organisation seeking to improve the culture of research, have not done enough to confront anti-Black racism and racial inequality in science and medicine and beyond. Black lives matter and we are committed to using our voices, actions and resources in support of Black people, especially those working within the communities in which we operate.
This response has been shaped with input from eLife’s editorial leadership, early-career advisors and executive staff. Our Editor-in-Chief, Michael Eisen, has also shared his own personal response. All of the actions that we should take are not immediately clear to us, though we are clear that action is required. Setting out what we can and should do will be an ongoing process requiring further listening and reflection. However, we are committed to sharing our plans and priorities over the coming weeks and months.
One thing that is immediately apparent to us is that our efforts to increase the diversity of eLife’s editorial board have not been enough. Currently, fewer than ten of our Reviewing Editors are Black and there are no Black scientists among our Senior Editors. We have to fix this, and we will.
We accept our responsibility to do more to make sure that Black researchers are heard and supported, and that their work is fairly assessed via our peer-review process. We must also do more to support diversity and inclusion within our own communities, and are grateful for the inspiration and leadership of the internationally diverse groups – including many within eLife’s communities – who already work to dismantle biased systems and confront racism in scholarship. We are listening and learning from you via our community managers, our editorial board, our Early-Career Advisory Group, our Community Ambassadors and our social media channels. Direct feedback is also always welcome.
Lastly, we are acutely aware that the issues being discussed are not new, and not unique to the United States. Systemic racism exists in many countries in different forms and there are countless injustices, due to racism and other issues, that affect the lives of those working in research around the world. We acknowledge that we have not spoken out about these issues in the past and we seek to change that now. Those affected do not have the privilege of simply ignoring these issues, and we will not ignore them either. Combating racism and racial inequality is everyone’s responsibility. We all have a part to play in stopping it. We must now learn how to better play our part.
Jennifer Gibson, Head of Open Research Communication – j.gibson[at]elifesciences[dot]org
Damian Pattinson, Executive Director – d.pattinson[at]elifesciences[dot]org
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