Understanding racism in transportation

June 10, 2020

Black Lives Matter painted on the street of Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington DC

Today around academia people are stopping their normal work to #ShutDownSTEM, take time to educate ourselves about systemic racism and anti-Blackness and develop detailed action plans to carry forward. There is a lot of discussion around the intersection of transportation and race, though it has mostly been focused in planning and not yet in engineering. Also much of the discussion is taking place in popular online spaces -- social media and websites -- and not academic venues. 

If you're looking for some places to start doing that work today, here are some resources to consider.  


Other Resources

And as you start to formulate your plan of how you will confront anti-Blackness and racism in the field, consider some of the following:

  • Scientific gatekeeping through impact metrics and peer review. "Measuring the effectiveness of scientific gatekeeping" by Siler, Lee and Bero studies how peer-review systems reject new ideas. The lack of diversity on editorial boards has an impact on which papers are accepted for publication.
  • Recognize potential racial bias in the works you cite, which may be unintentional but still harmful. Movements like #CiteBlackWomen push researchers to critically examine how they cite and interact with research, and consciously incorporate the work of Black women into their research. 
  • Consciously make opportunities for Black, Indigenous and people of color to work with you on research, to write papers and articles, and to speak and present. 
  • Pay attention to related work being done outside the field. Great research and innovation is happening in the transportation community outside academia. It is also important to look at how other areas are examining their history and doing similar work to address systemic racism. 

If you need to learn about systemic racism and anti-Blackness and how to become anti-racist, here are some place to start: