Sunday, October 13, 2013


[Update 10/14/13: Scientific American has finally reinstated Dr. Lee's original blog post on this topic, Biology-Online issued her an apology in which they claim to have fired the offensive editor, and Dr. Lee's story has hit national news. Behold the power of the pen! Or, as in this case, many collective virtual pens. Congrats, Dr. Lee! I hope this starts a dialogue on racism and sexism in the sciences, as well as discussion about payment for writers. - Mama Joules]

Yesterday, I jumped on Twitter to find an online acquaintance of mine, DNLee, at the center of a firestorm. Dr. Danielle N. Lee writes a blog called The Urban Scientist, a friendly, accessible voice from a minority woman in a global scientific community that is still largely dominated by white men. Dr. Lee was recently approached, via email, by an online publication to write for them for free. When she politely declined, they hit back with "Are you an urban scientist or an urban $&#%^?"

Now, I don't know about you, but when someone calls me a $&#%^, my blood starts boiling. My friend was no different, and she fired back on her blog with an appropriately measured response. However, her post was pulled by the host of her blog, Scientific American. Many have called this decision into question, particularly since it appears that this rude online publication has a financial relationship with Scientific American.

Sexism and racism - and I believe both were in play here - have no place in science or anywhere else. Deleting evidence of such transgressions doesn't erase the issue. Sweeping this ridiculous and insulting behavior under the rug only ensures that it will continue.

So, I am adding my voice to the growing online community of science blogging support for Dr. Lee. No one deserves to be cyber-bullied and then silenced and shamed as if they were at fault. 

You can read more about this issue, including a complete reprint of Dr. Lee's deleted rebuttal, from other similarly outraged bloggers: Sean Carroll, Dr. Isis, David Wescott, Dana Hunter and many, many others.

Dr. Danielle N. Lee
"A hip hop maven [who] blogs on urban ecology, evolutionary biology & diversity in the sciences"

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