After the murder of George Floyd in the late Spring of 2020 and the protests that followed, many organizations, PRIM&R included, found themselves in an overdue moment of introspection. How were institutions playing a role in perpetuating the injustices that led to, among other atrocities, police brutality and the killing of Black men? PRIM&R made a statement in the following weeks articulating our commitment to Black Lives Matter and promoting diversity, and describing our efforts to hold ourselves accountable and advance Justice and Equity. A part of this work included an internal review of how we acknowledge days and months on the calendar that commemorate heritage and awareness groups (e.g. Black History Month, LGBT Pride Month, Disability History/Awareness Month).
Often, these events represent efforts to increase historical understanding and direct greater attention and resources to communities that have been exploited or underserved. Though these awareness months and days are hardly enough to right what in some cases are centuries-old wrongs, they can be useful markers around which to orient our efforts. The pursuit of justice for these communities is morally necessary and also, often, relevant to scientific progress—look no further than the COVID-19 pandemic, where the lack of inclusion of pregnant people in trials has led to a meaningful proportion of deadly vaccine hesitancy.
We have decided on a calendar of recurring days and months that we believe are appropriate for us to observe, celebrate, and communicate to our audiences. You can see the full list below. In selecting these observances, we focused on identities, groups, and issues that have historically been exploited, underrepresented, or marginalized in research or healthcare (as in larger society). We also considered the degree to which PRIM&R, as an organization focused on advancing the ethical conduct of research, has something to offer by supporting the community in question. As a US-based organization, we focused solely on events observed in the United States, and considered the observed community’s composition in our national fabric.
We know it’s important to avoid mere cursory acknowledgment of these days/months while failing to take any action to direct attention and resources to the communities in question. As such, we have plans to share educational materials and programming relevant to each community as it relates to ethical research. The first effort explicitly in this vein is our recent blog post Celebrating National Native American Heritage Month: A Timeline of Important Events. In addition, we plan to make widely available some relevant existing resources we’ve created over the years.
Candidly, choosing events to acknowledge is a tricky thing; there is no unimpeachable algorithm by which we can choose to observe these dates. There may be a community or observance that you don’t see on this list that you strongly believe should be, or an inclusion that surprises you. We hope that being transparent about our thinking will invite feedback from our community. We’re continuing to learn how to best to leverage our platform in the research community to amplify marginalized voices and inform the public about essential issues of justice for communities who have not yet found it in our society. Our social media posts won’t directly solve bigotry or exploitation, but the distribution of our attention relates fundamentally to promoting justice, and PRIM&R is part of a constellation of institutions who have the power to influence widespread change.
If you have questions or feedback about the list below or any of our justice and equity efforts, we encourage you to share; leave a comment on this post or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’re happy to talk.
- Black History Month (United States and Canada)
- Women’s History Month
- Biomedical Research Awareness Day
- Celebrate Diversity Month
- Arab American Heritage Month
- Clinical Trials Day
- Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
- Jewish American Heritage Month (US)
- Mental Health Awareness Month
- Caribbean American Heritage Month
- LGBT Pride Month
- Disability History/Awareness Month
- National Hispanic Heritage Month (US; September 15 to October 15)
- National Research Administrator Day
- Native American Indian/Alaska Native Heritage Month
- AIDS Awareness Month
Elisa A. Hurley, PhD, is the Executive Director of PRIM&R.