It feels like the news cycle has started to move away from the Black Lives Matter movement, but the work isn’t done. In fact, the part that comes after the news cycle has moved on is perhaps even more important than the protests. The public’s memory is short, and the media’s attention span shorter. Meaningful change can only come when we intentionally keep up the momentum beyond the whims of the new cycle. One positive sign this time around has been just how thoroughly support for marginalized communities has permeated both the general culture as well as individual institutions and disciplines. The widespread promotion of #BlackBirdersWeek and #BlackAFinSTEM have been the two most prominent examples I’ve personally come across, and I’ve appreciated the chance to discover more professionals in my areas of interest that I may not have noticed otherwise.
The online paleontology community hasn’t sat idly by, either. Many prominent individuals have expressed their support and been boosting minority voices since the beginning of the George Floyd protests, which eventually culminated in multiple individuals getting together to form Dino Nerds for Black Lives, which kicked of with a charity livestream which lasted over 52 consecutive hours. The whole event boasted an impressive list of collaborators, and I find it particularly impressive that they managed to throw the whole thing together in as short a time frame as they did.
Viewers tuned in on Twitch to watch to various professional paleontologists and prominent paleontology enthusiasts discuss a variety of topics. Speakers included Lisa White, Evan Johnson-Ransom, Riley Black, Darren Naish, and many others. Some focused on diversity in the geosciences, while others focused more on general paleo topics. For each speaker, though, any donation made during one of the sessions to National Bail Out, The Bail Project, Ranowo, or BLM earned a chance to ask a question of the speakers. Studio 252MYA has also stocked official Dino Nerds for Black Lives t-shirts, with all proceeds from these shirt sales going to the aforementioned charities.
In addition to the more strictly scientifically inclined speakers, there was an art stream (featuring Joschua Knüppe of course, of #Paleostream fame), discussions of prehistoric life in pop culture, and video game live streams of both Jurassic World Evolution and Saurian, with the latter’s development team demonstrating their recent Triceratops update.
All said and done, Dino Nerds for Black Lives managed to raise $4,624, an impressive amount considering the niche audience. The team plans to keep promoting black voices in the paleontological community, and hopes to run a similar streaming event at some point in the future.
Now, a 52 hour livestream is a bit much for anyone to keep up with, so for anyone who wants to catch up, the videos will be available on the official Twitch channel a little while longer. However, since they were recorded in several-hour-long chunks, they might not be as easily navigable as some viewers might like. Everything will be uploaded to YouTube eventually, though, which should make things a little easier to look up. I’ll update the link here when that happens.
If you would like to support this cause yourself, you can donate to any of the charities they have highlighted (National Bail Out, The Bail Project, Ranowo, or BLM). I myself bought one of the Dino Nerds for Black Lives t-shirts from Studio 252MYA, which I would show to you here, but my order has yet to ship apparently. (I’ll replace the stock image below with my own photos whenever it does arrive.) If you’re short on cash at the moment, you should at least follow Dino Nerds for Black Lives on Twitter. I look forward to more content from this initiative, and applaud their activism. Black Lives Matter!
P.S. – One of the things I’ve admired about the broader Black Lives Matter movement, especially in its current wave, has been the way in which its momentum has spilled over to energize support for other marginalized groups all over the world. Just to pick an example close to home, while production started before the George Floyd protests, Prehistoric Road Trip was inspired to shine a light on the historic exclusion of Native Americans from paleontology, even as fossils were excavated from their own reservations, to say nothing of their broader former homelands. Check out my review of Prehistoric Road Trip for more, as well as Lawrence Bradley’s Dinosaurs and Indians.