Like much of the rest of Black America, Entente Hinton Jr. responded to the murders of George Floyd and Breona Taylor, wanted to do something. His parents felt it; so they asked him the main question.
“They asked me to think about what I could do in the scientific community to make an impact,” he told TheGrio. Hinton, who is currently an associate professor in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics at Vanderbilt Medical School, was at the beginning of his career at the time. His parents wanted him to know that marching is not the only way he can make a difference.
“They told me that the goal of everything I do is to have a lasting impact that can help create change,” he said.
An equally important conversation with the teacher, Dr. Ishmael Abdus-Sabur, would help crystallize Hinton’s initiative. “He told me that his own graduate students still feel his own graduate students when he didn’t have anyone like him in the classroom,” Hinton said.
Although the pandemic is attributed to an increase in the number of black students applying and attending medical school, Hinton said the trend has not reached traditional science programs. Accordingly, Dr. Abdus-Sabur advised that it is very important to raise black scientists so that he and other students can see how well black people are represented in science.
“I told him I really liked his idea and asked if I could try to reinforce it,” Hinton explained. With the blessing of Abdus-Sabur, Hintan addressed his colleagues in the Community of Scientists, minority organizations and those who have proven allies in the scientific arena, and expressed interest in creating a list of black scientists in the field.
From there, the first list of 100 black scientists was created. His success prompted the creation of a list of an additional 100 black scientists. And in December 2020, the official list of 1,000 inspiring black scientists in America was published. Each list was published in Cell Mentor, the online companion of Cell Press, the main scientific journal.
“It’s the Oscars in the world of science,” Hinton joked. “Their readership is so wide in this area, and for their partnership with us in this way really speaks to the need to create more visibility opportunities for black scholars.”
Hinton’s ultimate goal is to provide more visibility to scientists who are like us. “It’s too often said that there are no black people in science, and that’s just not true.” Hinton further explained that his list removes the false – and strange – assumption that black scientists are lazy.
“When you look at this list along with the performance indexes in this area, you say that black scientists are not only doing well, but at an extremely high level,” he said.
After all, Hinton hopes the list will inspire students to pursue science – just as it was inspired by grandparents in the garden as children. After this early autopsy, Hinton studied at Winston-Salem State University, a historically black college in North Carolina. In biology with chemistry, Hinton said the WSSU showed him what was possible. “I had professors like Dr. Maurice J. Clark, who pushed me to be better than I can be, and I want other students to see this list and find the same impetus in it. ”
Hinton, along with the Community of Scientists, hopes to gain funding and more partnerships to release a broader and more interactive list of 10,000 black scientists in the future. “There’s really no excuse for anyone to say they can’t find a black scientist to quote or question,” he said, “because we’re here.”
Candice Marie Benbow is a writer for TheGrio’s daily life, education and health. She is also the author Red Lips Theology: For Church Girls Who Thought to Pay Tithing at a Gadget Store If Sunday Morning Is Not Enough. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @candicebenbow.
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