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Trying not to die in academia

“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll run a coffee shop.” My therapist had a blank stare; he said he felt “visceral” in hearing that. This visceral, intuitive feeling because I have a PhD, published 10 papers, and done several years of postdoctoral work yet am thinking about selling coffee and donuts. It is the internal part of him that thinks a highly trained scientist should do meaningful, scientific work—not think of alternative careers. I have anxiety and depression. I have publicly talked about my condition [Nature Q&A, Science]. I have good days, but also bad days. But after reading of the suicide of Dr. Antoinette “Bonnie” Candia-Bailey—an HBCU’s Vice President—myself and other Black female scientists feel discouragement, even tears. Reading emails of how others would not help Dr. Candia-Bailey frustrates me beyond what others may imagine. Black women are thoughtful. Creative.  We do things to help others, and I have read Dr. Candia-Bailey mentored and supported many at her institution. One of my colleagues said it online: “I’m ready to fall in love with science. No more abusive PIs. No more abusive colleagues.” I want that type of freedom.

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