Space Race Matters

NASA Astronauts

One of the bitter ironies anti-racists face when working to end white-supremacist thinking and action is that the folks who most perpetuate it are the individuals who are usually the least willing to acknowledge that race matters. (bell hooks, Teaching Community, 2003, p. 28)

You may be wondering what 7 astronauts have to do with a quote about anti-racism work from bell hooks. I too would be curious. Well, let me attempt to fill in several bits of context and hopefully you’re wonder will be satiated.

Last week, while checking out a NASA-related post from one of my favorite blogs, the Boston Globe’s “Big Picture Blog,” I happened to observe that none of the 7 astronauts for NASA’s latest space shuttle mission were people of color.

There were already 15 comments on the post. Most of the comments praised the ingenuity of NASA or extolled the fantastically big pictures on the post/site. I decided to post a seemingly innocent question regarding the racial makeup of the 7 astronauts in picture #23:

The pool of astronauts isn’t the most diverse is it?
7 white people. 6 guys and only 1 woman. Where are the astronauts of color??? ~Eric Stoller

I had no idea that my comment would generate a shower of racist rhetoric and inflammatory comments.

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