lefty astronomy: supporting the mauna kea protests

willb/ July 25, 2019/ lefty astronomy/ 0 comments

Jul. 25th, 2019

What is happening on mauna kea?

Construction of TMT on Maunakea was scheduled to resume Monday, July 15, 2019. On July 14, 2019, AP reported that unarmed National Guard units will be involved in transporting personnel and supplies, and enforcing road closures. Exact details of the situation on the mountain are dynamic, but as of Wednesday, July 17, 2019, the authors of this letter were alarmed to see multiple confirmations on social media that local law enforcement has begun arresting native Hawaiians who are peacefully occupying the summit and blocking the road to the construction site.

Open letter opposing criminalization of Maunakea protectors, by Mia de los Reyes and Sal Wanying Fu

What can you do?

Actionable items: 
Sign in support of this letter (link here) and the following demands:
Ask the TMT collaboration and the Hawaiian government to remove military / police presence from the mauna, to stop arrests, and to not charge protectors who have already been arrested
Ask the TMT collaboration to engage protectors in discussion with an aim to reach consensus
Watch the livestream and bear witness to events on the mauna: https://www.facebook.com/Kanaeokana/videos/485669822180209/
Contribute to the bail fund for the kūpuna (Kānaka Maoli elders) and their assistants who have already been arrested: http://hawaiicommunitybailfund.org/
Donate to KAHEA, a community-based organization that is also helping with legal funds for Maunakea protectors: http://kahea.org/

Open letter, Mia de los Reyes & Sal Wanying Fu

My short statement (as someone with no influence, importance, authority, etc): “This moment in time is a chance for colonizers to re-evaluate the impact of their actions within the context of global imperialism and motivate a strong, caring, and working relationship between native people, their land, and astronomy. This begins with decriminalization of protesters, but extends far beyond this singular event. Astronomy is a human endeavor, and requires the consent and participation of everyone. “

I am signatory 733 on this open letter, I hope you’ll join me in supporting this movement!

Jan. 13, 2020

As a brief addition to this post I wanted to share my submission to the “Call for Input: Astro2020 Panel on the State of the Profession and Societal Impacts.” I’ve included the brief description of the form included on their website, as well as their link to the form if you’d like to fill it out yourself.

“Astro2020 is the first decadal survey of astronomy and astrophysics to establish a Panel on the State of the Profession and Societal Impacts.  Its goal is to assess the health of the community, including topics such as demographics, diversity and inclusion, workplace climate, workforce development, education, and public engagement.  Community input is critical for this endeavor, and we invite you to share your thoughts, ideas, and comments with the panel by completing this form.  This input will help the panel make actionable suggestions to the Astro2020 steering committee on what the profession should look like in 2030 and how that vision can be realized.”

I answered the survey anonymously, so my submission is fairly spicy, but few enough people read this blog that I’m comfortable sharing here.

“As a junior astronomy researcher, I would like to see more effort undertaken by senior members of the community to address the negative impact construction and presence on Mauna Kea has had on the ecology and dignity of native hawaiians. I would hope that much more effort can be put towards reformulating the community’s perception of indigenous astronomy and its integration and contribution to continued research. Many, if not a majority junior astronomers I interact with side with the protectors of the Mauna and agree that the community’s treatment of the issue has been incredibly immoral, and reflects poorly on undergraduates, applicants, and others without the voice or platform to express our solidarity. We believe that astronomy is not free from the context within which it is performed. I’d strongly urge the panel to consider this recent whitepaper by Kahanamoku et al. 2020 (https://arxiv.org/abs/2001.00970) as a starting point for further action on these issues. Senior members of this community have the responsibility to empathize with and consider outside perspectives, and acknowledge the past mistakes of astronomers regarding their complicity in acts of violence, displacement, and disruption. Instead of getting defensive on twitter, take a walk and start acting and thinking like adults”

William Balmer
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About willb

I'm Will, an undergraduate astronomer studying transition disks, direct imaging, and planet accretion and formation at the Follette Lab at Amherst College. I use they/them/theirs pronouns.

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