Highlighting the stories of people of colour in STEM.
The POC2 team has decided to focus our articles on ancient scientific discoveries from non-Western scientists, as the majority of the scientists featured so far are those who are POC, but have used Western academia and Western institutions to do their research.
It’s important to understand how a lot of scientific discoveries and inventions are attributed to 17th century to present day Western science due to it taking the forefront in the academic world, and whilst the Western world have led science for the last 4ish centuries this was due to a majority of non-Western countries trying to recover from the effects of colonialism and slavery (a process that is frankly still ongoing).
There were many scientists of colour in old and ancient African, South American, and Asian civilisations whose work was very ahead of their time and has gone largely unrecognised. They came up with the discoveries that we usually attribute to Western scientists who in most cases discovered them much later.
An example of this is Al-Khazini, a Persian-Muslim astronomer during the Islamic Golden Age who understood the concept of gravity about 5 centuries before the “discovery” was made by Issac Newton as well as Al-Sufi who was also another Persian-Muslim astronomer during the Islamic Golden Age who is responsible for the discovery of the Andromeda Galaxy in 964 AD. Additionally he made several corrections to Greek astronomers’ works, most notably corrections to the star list in the Almagest of Ptolemy and the stellar magnitude system which we base our readings on today.
It is important to recognise that science is not unique to Ancient Greece and the modern Western world. Local sciences have always existed across the globe and the erasure of such knowledge is a result of systematic racism. In an attempt to implement meaningful systematic solutions into STEM curriculums we will be making profiles on as much of the lost Ancient science as we can.
POC2 was founded in May 2018 by two BME Astrophysics students after they noticed a lack of ethnic diversity in STEM academia. As the cliché goes they were constantly finding themselves as the only person of colour in the room and were also noticing several unethical practices used by some of the most famous scientists ever! There is a lack of support for getting BME individuals into actual paid positions within STEM and the POC2 team is working to change this. Read more about the POC2 story on the “our story” page.
The POC2 team are dedicated to writing about people of colour who have succeeded in STEM despite the obstacles they have faced. There are many interesting individuals, as well as amazing examples of science in communities across the world and throughout history, that we rarely hear about and are seldom featured in mainstream curriculums. Please see our blog and in progress pages for more information and to see what it coming soon.
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Mary Eliza Mahoney + Fatima al-Fihri
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Last Updated: 16/07/19