The March for Science is having a tough time deciding whether the march should focus on “diversity and inclusion” or health and climate policy.
They were supposed to have gotten their internal issues under control, but this week a new fight broke out over whether Bill Nye the Science Guy, the former children’s television host who considers himself the leader of the “pro-science movement” should lead the protest. The problem? Nye is a “white male.”
Nye, who is not, in fact, a scientist, except on television (he’s an engineer by trade), was slated to be the March’s chair, and an announcement was made last week. But organizers quickly panicked that having Nye at the forefront of the event meant they might be substantiating the idea that scientists are only old white men.
Again, Nye actually isn’t a scientist, but whatever.
“I love Bill Nye,” said Stephani Page, a member of the March’s board, who was critical of what she considered the March’s lack of diversity. “But I do feel comfortable saying to you what I said to the steering committee: He is a white male, and in that way he does represent the status quo of science, of what it is to be a scientist.”
To round out the March’s public face, then, the people in charge were forced to add two women of color as Nye’s co-chairs, “to put up a picture of science that did not just fit the white male image.”
For his part, Nye just seemed sort of confused about the whole thing, telling BuzzFeed, “I was born a dorky white guy who became an engineer. I’m playing the hand I was dealt. We can’t—this march can’t solve every problem all at once.”
Organizers insist that “intersectionality” and “diversity” must be part of the march because science seeks to “improve communities” and one way to do that is to advocate for the marginalized and oppressed.
Unfortunately, it also makes the March as much about actual science as Bill Nye himself.
The decision doesn’t sit well with actual scientists, who say the March is supposed to bring attention to the Trump Administration‘s environmental and research agenda, not a mish-mash of progressive causes du jour. These scientists say that Trump is de-funding important programs that address issues like climate change, devastating diseases, and space exploration, areas that need attention because of their national -and global – implications.
The March is still going forward, and Nye has begun his publicity tour, promoting the event alongside his two new scientist co-chairs.