This week, my colleagues and I here at The Planetary Society joined the growing chorus of voices calling out the systemic racism that plagues our world.
Many of us are having a hard time looking up right now. It’s a painful moment. We here at The Planetary Society recognize we must do more to support Black people, including Black people who love space.
Our mission is to empower the world’s citizens to advance space science and exploration. Because we are the largest independent space advocacy group of its kind, it’s imperative that we do our part to get things right. Racism affects every facet of society. It affects space exploration.
Retired NASA astronaut Leland Melvin joins Bill Nye, CEO of The Planetary Society, in a wide-ranging conversation about recent space milestones and how racial inequality afflicts space exploration.
With our 5-year-strategic vision, Space for Everyone, we seek to cultivate a large and engaged community of space advocates. After all, we embrace what astronauts call “the overview effect.” We are one world, one species. However, heartbreaking disparities exist across the US and elsewhere. The events of the week have stimulated frank conversations and deeper reflection among our staff about how we can grow in our awareness of what it means to be an organization that actively opposes racism.
As one of our founders, Carl Sagan, once said, “Valid criticism does you a favor.” To that end, I will be asking our Board of Directors and our staff to take a good look at ourselves—and do the necessary work to make our programs much more inclusive. We will also look for ways to influence the broader space exploration community toward a vision of a more inclusive future.
We won’t wait for this process of self-reflection to be complete before we take concrete action. As a starting point, we will take the following steps:
We will expedite a diversity training seminar designed to help our staff begin the work of becoming an organization that works actively against racism (a small step, but an important one).
We will expand our existing efforts to amplify the profiles and voices of underrepresented individuals and groups in our communications. Next week, I will join my friend NASA astronaut Leland Melvin in a conversation about the recent remarkable achievements in space—and listen to what he has to say about race in space exploration.
As humans we’ve made massive achievements in pushing the boundaries of what’s possible to discover more about the cosmos and our place within it. We can apply the same ingenuity and determination toward creating a more just future for everyone living on—and above—Earth. Let’s get to work.