Berkeley Lab

Resources and Actions for Positive Change – a Letter from Mike Witherell


Last week I wrote to you about how saddened we have been by the killing of George Floyd, the latest in a long series of brutal assaults on Black Americans across the country. We join with those raising their voices to denounce all race-related brutality and racial injustice.

This has been a difficult time for all of us. For some, the realities of discrimination, prejudice, and suffering are deeply hurtful, and all too familiar. For others, this may be a reality that they know very little about. For us to make a positive difference within our Lab community, we all need to educate ourselves about the structural inequities within society, within science and academia, and at our Lab. And we need to work together to address the institutional barriers that devalue people and their contributions.

In our letter last week, I told you about my conversation with members of our African American Employee Resource Group, and of my commitment to partnering with ERG leaders to develop long-term solutions for addressing racial inequities. But change depends on all of us learning effective ways to support one another and to stand up for racial justice. The Human Resources (HR) and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) offices have put together guidance designed for supervisors and resources for everyone that can help us learn more about anti-racism practices, and adopt behaviors that will make the Lab a more welcoming and inclusive environment.

You may have heard about the ShutDownSTEM and related actions called for tomorrow, June 10. As members of the University of California community, we support the goals of offering support to our Black colleagues and of reflecting on how we can help to develop a new generation of Black STEM students. These are important goals, and it will take sustained effort from all of us in the scientific and operations community to achieve them. I urge you to educate yourself, explore the many resources offered by our HR and DEI offices, and then join us in making positive changes in our community. Those of you who choose to participate in ShutDownSTEM-related activities may take vacation to do so, with the advance approval of your supervisor.

Best regards,


Michael Witherell
Laboratory Director

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