FIRST Messaging & #BlackLivesMatter

Personally, I really appreciate seeing FIRST publicly supporting the modern civil rights movement on their twitter and instagram and mirrored on their facebook.

I know there are some here who think “why are we mixing politics in with our robots” and the reason is simple: life is political. Who gets to play robots is political - who has the money, the space, and the support to run a robotics team is political. When we look at crowds of robotics students, it’s easy to see which segments of our population have more access to the coolest sport in high school.

Do you have questions? I’m here for that. I don’t have all the answers, but I’m trying my best.

July 14th Update

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Thanks Katie! I also appreciate this messaging from FIRST.


Not only is it a great thing to do, but it is setting an excellent example for the many young FIRST participants watching. I’m very happy to see it.


Definitely agree. The only thing I think their posts were missing is a link to learn more. Of course people can Google, but with such a polarizing political issue it would be nice for them to provide an official unbiased source for information and a place for people to donate or get involved if they can


I got you:


yeah, I’m actually really disappointed but not at all surprised. More and more FIRST has been choosing sides and alienating half their students and mentors with partisan messaging. I had hoped FIRST would be an organization where we could set aside our differences and come together for common purpose, ie inspiration and recognition of science and technology, gracious professionalism, coopertition, etc. but instead they’ve become just another battleground for the culture war.


Okay, I’ll take the bait. What part of FIRST’s message calling for equal treatment of all people is “partisan messaging”?

As a mentor, your students are watching how you respond to this period in history, and they’re going to learn from you.

We have a lot of work to do. Mods might as well close this thread now; we all know where it’s going.


I’ve actually been very impressed that the thread has been open for almost 12 hours and it hasn’t deteriorated. The Facebook post lasted like 5 minutes. I’d like to think that says something about our community here.


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they aren’t calling for equal treatment. they’re calling for “equitable” treatment ie unequal treatment based on perceived injustices and historical grievances.

same goes for you.


GP is a marketing term from FIRST. Compassion and empathy are core components of it as was often expressed by the late Woodie Flowers.

I can’t fathom looking at these protests, that are a smoldering fire that was re-ignited upon the suffocation of an innocent person who called out for his dead mother In his last moments and thinking “gee, this is a partisan issue”.

This isn’t partisan.

In the background, this is all happening with over 100,000 dead in the USA because of a pandemic that was fueled by systemic denial of the scientific method and anti-intellectualism.


perceived injustices

Good thing camera phones exist now so that you can fathom to “perceive” them too


FBI statistics have existed a long time, but why would a community that prides itself on the promotion of science and technology ever want to look at numbers and data when they’ve got emotions to appeal to?


Sorry, had to let the steam settle a bit.

If these statements by FIRST alienate you or your team, good.

Step back. Do some self reflection.

Listen to voices that are different than yours. Listen to their experiences. Do the legwork to find out what people are really angry about, and what you can do to help.

And if you are still alienated, then see ya I guess.


I’d recommend a cup of your own advice, rather than jumping to vilify the people who disagree with you.


I don’t want to get too involved here or anything, but I really do need to disagree with everyone who’s saying people need to “do some self reflection” because they disagree with something.

If we, as the FIRST community, are truly accepting, that shouldn’t just be of skin color or personal identities. Being an accepting community that welcomes all should also mean welcoming and accepting opposing or less desirable ideas and opinions. We should all be able to speak our mind, but also respect each other’s beliefs. By telling people to check themselves, or do some self reflection, you’re implying that what they believe in is wrong and that it should change.

I’m not taking sides here; this goes out to everyone.


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From FIRST’s Website:

We express the FIRST philosophies of Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition through our Core Values:

  • Discovery: We explore new skills and ideas.
  • Innovation: We use creativity and persistence to solve problems.
  • Impact: We apply what we learn to improve our world.
  • Inclusion: We respect each other and embrace our differences.
  • Teamwork: We are stronger when we work together.
  • Fun: We enjoy and celebrate what we do!

Inclusion and embracing our differences rather than setting them aside is a key part of FIRST. It’s one of the common purposes we come together for. It’s how we express Gracious Professionalism.


I can’t speak to the FBI but I can provide you and others with some data that was shared with me recently:

  • 1 out of every 1,000 black men in the United States can expect to be killed by the police.
  • Black men are about 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white men.
  • In 2019, 1,099 people were killed by police in the US.
    • 24% of those were black, even though only 13% of the population is black.
  • Black Americans make up a disproportionate number of COVID-19 deaths.
    • In Michigan, black people make up 14% of the population and 40% of COVID-19 deaths.
    • In Louisiana, black people are 33% of the population but account for 70% of COVID-19 deaths.
    • Black Americans are more likely to work in essential jobs, with 38% of black workers employed in these industries compared with 29% of white workers.
    • Black Americans are less likely to have access to health insurance and more likely to lack continuity in medical care.
  • In the US, black workers comprise 11% of the US workforce, but hold just 7% of STEM jobs that require a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • Only 4% of medical doctors are black.
  • Hispanic workers make up 16% of the US workforce, 6% of STEM jobs that require a bachelor’s degree or higher, and 4.4% of medical doctors.
  • Women make up 47% of the US workforce but 41% of STEM professionals with professional or doctoral degrees.
  • We know around 3.5% of the US workforce identifies as LGBTQ+, their representation in STEM fields is largely unknown - in part due to fear.
  • As of 2019, less than 4% of tenured or tenure-track geoscience positions are held by people of color.
  • Fewer than 100 black women in the US have received PhDs in physics.

Sources for this data:


So i’m so incredibly tired of “if you/we are truly accepting of all then we should accept peoples bigotry and racism because “thats just who they are” BS” Forget you and your idea that we should be accepting of peoples hate because “equality and acceptance” thats not equality or acceptance…

Should we be accepting of differing ideas? Absolutely, when it comes to things like “I like pears but not peaches”, or “i believe that the government should spend less on XYZ and more of ABC”. We should not be accepting of differing ideas like "that person is worth less because they have a different skin pigment/anatomy/sexual orientation/etc. "