“The erasure of Black history creates the misconception that Black issues are inauthentic or rooted in laziness rather than institutional discrimination.”
Science is an ever-evolving subject with many moving parts and related entities affected by its advancements. Some incredibly important chemical advancements were made by Black women, whether they be increasing the number of Black people enrolled in higher education or altering molecules to treat illnesses.
“I had no idea that these women existed before working on this project…”
Josephine Silone Yates (1859-1921) and Marie Maynard Daly (1921-2003) were both influential in academia. Both earned chemistry degrees, became professors, and formed programs to increase the number of Black people pursuing higher education. Because of their work, women like Bettye Washington Greene (1935-1995), Alma Levant Hayden (1927-1967), and Alice Ball (1892-1916) were successful in earning several patents for latex, proving that a popularly used compound was not a cure for cancer as it was claimed to be, and developing a treatment for leprosy, respectively.
The breakthroughs made by these women were not only impressive at the time, but continue to be significant to this day. In 2020 various organizations still work to increase the number of minorities participating in higher education in the STEM fields. The accomplishments made by these women should be widely taught and publicized such that more individuals may be inspired to increase diversity in fields where minimal perspectives are offered.
I find this theme interesting and important because I am a Black woman studying chemistry, and I am currently the only person of my demographic in the chemistry department here at SFU. I had no idea that these women existed before working on this project, and it is somewhat comforting to know that multiple women have been in my exact position before.
This theme relates most to the creation of Black History Month. Carter G. Woodson was frustrated with the fact that the accomplishments of Black individuals were not being publicized, and therefore could not be properly celebrated. If it were not for my research, I would have never known that these women existed, let alone learning about the accomplishments and scientific advancements they made. The need for universal celebration for Black history and culture is important because the current issues that face Black people were not created in a vacuum, which has also been mentioned in class. The erasure of Black history creates the misconception that Black issues are inauthentic or rooted in laziness rather than institutional discrimination.