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Statement from AURA President, June 2020 - on-going challenges of racial inequality and prejudice, the spread of COVID-19

Status Report From:
Posted: Thursday, June 4, 2020

Colleagues:

These past few weeks have been heart wrenching, difficult and painful, in so many ways.  Whether it is the abhorrent, and tragic series of events across the United States that have once again exposed the historical and on-going challenges of racial inequality and prejudice, the spread of COVID-19 virus in all our communities, the financial toll of faltering economies, or the combined effects of all three, recent events have had profound impacts on all of us.  Here in the U.S., there is both deep sadness, and profound anger at the killing of George Floyd, and the unconscionable killing of others.  In some cases, the impacts of these events, including the violence that has engulfed our streets are stark and visceral…in others, the impacts are subtle but no less painful and real.    

The coming days, weeks, and months will continue to present challenges for all of us. In these difficult times, let us remember to be especially thoughtful and respectful to each other in our thoughts and actions.  

AURA, as a leader in the astronomical community, believes that a diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce is our most valuable asset. We believe that a community of people of different genders and gender identities, color, ability, systemic advantage and disadvantage, and more – people from all walks of life – are essential to ensuring excellence both in our organization and in the scientific community as a whole.  We remain committed to respecting and valuing each and every individual in our organization as a professional and as a person. We recognize that our success relies upon that respect and upon embracing the unique perspectives each one of you brings to work every day.  

Let me end with the appeal of the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from her book Americanah, “If you don’t understand, ask questions. If you’re uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway. It’s easy to tell when a question is coming from a good place. Then listen some more. Sometimes people just want to feel heard. Here’s to possibilities of friendship and connection and understanding.”

Please be safe, 

Matt Mountain
AURA President

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