Thirty years ago, as a biology major, I became deeply enchanted by the process by which the structure of DNA was discovered. The elegance and logic of Dr. James Watson and Dr. Francis Crick’s research amazed, no enthralled me. I walked around with a stunned look on my face for days afterwards, replaying their procedures over and over in my head. For years, I’ve randomly named paired items, animate and inanimate, WATSON and CRICK as nod to their contribution to science.
So yesterday was like the day I learned there was no Santa Claus, realized there was no god, and that love is not all you need. Yesterday, I found out that Dr. Watson has long held, and often expressed his opinion that blacks are intellectually inferior and that, “anyone who works with them knows” this.
My ususal response to racism tends to be a cynical smirk, as if to say, “So what do you expect?” Occasionally, and not all that often, I am angered and dismayed by acts of racism.
But yesterday, one of my heroes stabbed me in the heart and for the first time in decades, I cried because of a racial slur. At the time, I was thankful my students weren’t in the classroom to witness my tears, but now I think they should have been there.
Later that evening, I cried again when I told my husband how one of the giants of science had shattered my heart.
And later, in bed, after the lights were out, I cried one last time.
Perhaps now my heart can go back to its cynical disdain and disregard; and maybe it will be another three decades before I cry because of racism again.
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