Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Life Science Profiles of Color: A Response to Racism in the Life Sciences

Back in October, 2007, Fard Johnmar over at HealthcareVOX blog, went "off topic" to comment on racist "gestures" like nooses hung on trees and doors and the brouhaha over a statement attributed to James Watson, winner of the Nobel Prize as co-discoverer of DNA's molecular structure. See Fard's comments here.

According to Bloomberg.com, Watson was quoted Oct. 14 in the Times of London saying he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours -- whereas all the testing says not really."

Ever since I read Watson's book, The Double Helix, I realized he was a pr*ck! His comment about Africans just confirms it. Let's put racism aside for a moment. May I ask, what do social policies have do with intelligence? I mean, should charity and financial aid go to only intelligent people rather than to anyone in need regardless of their intelligence?

Fard suggests that we should not waste our time condemning these idiots but rather counteract racist beliefs with communication:
"So, I have a simple suggestion for communicators of all colors and creeds. People are quoting the 'science,' IQ tests and SAT scores to suggest that Blacks and Whites are not of equal intelligence. They also rely on anecdotal evidence, saying "look around, you can't help but notice that most Blacks don't take advantage of the opportunities they have in this country." If we want to change these beliefs, we have to replace assumptions with the facts. Show people why they are wrong by citing examples of the quiet, unheralded contributions Blacks are making in business, science, education, law and other areas. Condemnation is good, but saying 'this is wrong' and going back to business as usual two weeks later is criminal."
Fard cites a few names of Blacks that have made unheralded contributions to our society. What I wanted to know was, where are they in the pharmaceutical industry? I know they are there! I've met a few at industry meetings like Digital Pharma and have written at least one story in my newsletter about the work of a Black pharma product manager.

I suggested to Fard that it would be a great idea to seek out Black professionals in the life sciences industry and begin telling their stories. Thus was born the idea for "Life Sciences Profiles of Color" blog.

Fard and I solicited the assistance of Craig DeLarge, Associate Director, eMarketing & Relationship Marketing at Novo Nordisk Inc. Craig is very well connected and volunteers as a mentor to young people interested in a career in the life sciences.

How people of color achieve success in the life sciences and what prepared them to assume positions of power and responsibility in the industry is often an untold story. The "Life Sciences Profiles of Color" (LSPOC) blog aims partially to fill this gap by:
  • Highlighting the achievements and contributions of people of color in the Life Sciences industry, and
  • Encouraging and inspiring young professionals and students who are considering a career in the Life Sciences industry.
Pharma Marketing Talk Live Podcast Today!
Racism in the Life Sciences: What Should be the Response?

Join me today at 2 PM Eastern time for a live, online conversation with Craig and Fard about The Life Science Profiles of Color project and blog. You'll be able to join a live chat session or call in with questions. For more information, see this Pharma Marketing Talk promo page.

If you can't join in live, you can always listen to the audio podcast archive later.

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