I was a fourth-year graduate student when I found myself asking a librarian for the archives of the journal The Annals of Eugenics. I got to that point by climbing back through a chain of references on fundamental statistical measures in my field of population genetics. I held the journal and flipped through the article titles and familiar author names, realizing that my field wasn’t so far removed from the turn-of-the-century eugenics movement. Feeling somewhat nauseous, I photocopied the article I was looking for and returned the journal quickly.
Now as a faculty member at San Francisco State University (SFSU), a public institution that puts social justice at the center of its mission, I continue to struggle with my field’s limited reckoning with our eugenic past. Can folks like me, who have built careers that grow from eugenics science, hold ourselves accountable for these roots as we continue scientific research? These questions become increasingly important in a political landscape where scientific ideas about genetic variation and difference are weaponized to support devastating policies, and the atrocities of racial injustice... see more