“Black Lives are Star Stuff and Black Lives Matter—all of them.” A renowned physicist describes the beauty and wonder of the universe while interrogating the discriminatory sociocultural systems that support scientific practice.
In this powerful and compelling book, Prescod-Weinstein lays it out patently: Racist and sexist policies and behaviors are rampant across all scientific disciplines. As a result, minorities are poorly represented, in particular in physics, astronomy, and related fields. Yet the cosmos offers a siren song to all humans, and changing the centuries-old framework dictating how science is constructed, perceived, and taught is imperative not only to make room for diverse scientists, but also to enrich the pursuit of knowledge itself. Prescod-Weinstein, who is the first Black woman to hold a tenure-track faculty position in theoretical cosmology, rightly points out that “creating room for Black children to freely love particle physics and cosmology means radically changing society and the role of physicists within it.” In a pleasing combination of passionate and cogent prose, the author demonstrates the entanglement of scientific pursuit and colonial histories and explains how her own exploration of math and physics cannot be separated from the history of racism and oppression. After all, she writes, “physics and math classrooms are not only scenes of cosmology…but also scenes of society, complete with all of the problems that follow society wherever it goes. There is no escape.” From the hunt for dark matter (her area of expertise) to the often fraught relationship among Indigenous peoples, their lands, and high-tech experiments, Prescod-Weinstein’s deep dives into complex subjects are accessible and exhilarating. But it's her crystal-clear vision of the transformation equality could effect in the world that makes this book a must-read. Her belief in what the future could hold—of “what freedom looks like”—should serve as an inspiration for all readers.
A timely, necessary, stellar book—a game-changer.