In light of current events I want to acknowledge that, for many people, PLDI 2020 cannot be a business as usual conference. I cannot improve on the wording of the excellent ICFP Statement on Current Events, so let me quote it: I’m referring to “the innocent Black lives violently taken recently, without cause, including but not limited to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, as well as other victims of racist violence in the United States and around the world.”
PLDI 2020 is happening at a time when many in the Programming Languages community are upset and angry, and are reflecting on the fact that Black people are massively under-represented in our field. As General Chair, I want to acknowledge that this under-representation applies to PLDI 2020. I also want to voice my support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
This year’s conference - being virtual and carrying no registration fee - has an unprecedented number of participants from a wide range of countries. This extended reach means that PLDI 2020 has great potential as a forum in which members of the Programming Languages community who have been moved by these events can come together to discuss problems related to lack of diversity and inclusion in our field, and to plan actions we might take to make our field more inviting, accepting, welcoming and inclusive to all minority groups, specifically including Black people.
I actively encourage you to use the following three features of the virtual conference as a platform for sharing your thoughts and suggestions, and engaging in discussions:
You can use the
/videocommand in our Slack workspace to create video chat rooms on particular topics. You can make these public, or private for specific co-attendees.
You can start a public discussion thread in our Slack workspace.
Our Gather space provides an opportunity for meeting people face-to-face for informal get-togethers.
I want to emphasise in the strongest possible terms that racism, or indeed any other unacceptable behaviour to anyone, will not be tolerated at PLDI 2020. Everyone registered for the conference has been directed to the ACM Policy Against Harassment, which attendees must adhere to at all times. If you observe or are subject to inappropriate behaviour, please call it out. You can do this in several ways:
/saysomethingcommand on Slack to send a message to a team of moderators, which includes members of the SIGPLAN CARES group, plus other members of the Organizing Committee.
Talk directly to a CARES member: several member of CARES have agreed to be available during the conference and can be contacted directly on Slack; the
#announcementschannel will give details.
Visit CARES in the Gather space, or join a CARES-hosted Zoom meeting, to voice your concerns.
For students reading this, I also want to draw your attention to the opportunities for 1-1 mentoring being offered as part of the Programming Languages Mentoring Workshop (PLMW), co-located with PLDI. The organisers of PLMW are available to offer “individual mentoring to any student who is coping with issues of racism and discrimination”, as detailed in the PLMW Statement on BLM.
Finally: I want to acknowledge that unacceptable problems of discrimination, harassment and exclusion are faced by many minority groups in the Programming Languages field. I know that some people are uncomfortable about singling out a particular minority group when talking about diversity and inclusion. However, I believe that at this moment acknowledging the challenges faced by Black people - in general and in our community specifically - is the right thing to do.
Alastair F. Donaldson
General Chair, PLDI 2020