A letter from the Neuroscience & Behavior leadership

Author: Lacey Barroso

The following message is sent on behalf of the Neuroscience and Behavior Senior Leadership Committee and advisors: Drs. Branco, Michael and Venter.


June 5th, 2020


Dear Neuroscience Community, 


In support of justice, equality, and human rights, we must gather as a community to amplify black voices and educate ourselves on the systemic racism and white supremacy that our country was built on and that remains prevalent in our systems, organizations, and communities. 


Under 10% of Notre Dame students are black[1]. To that fraction of our community: we want to amplify your voice. While you should never have to feel obligated to educate white people and non-black POC on these serious issues and the struggles you face, we are here to listen should you want to. If you would like to share your experiences, thoughts, or information about the Black Lives Matter movement and racism, police violence, and white privilege, we want to amplify your voice on this platform. If you would like to share your art, research, and accomplishments with our community, we want to support and share that. 


To the remaining 90+% of Notre Dame students who are white or non-black POC: It is our responsibility to educate ourselves and acknowledge our role. If you are not black, do not center this narrative around yourself. This is not about you. Please take this time to support your Black friends, family, neighbors, and classmates in their fight for justice and equality that has been ongoing for hundreds and hundreds of years. We must not dominate the conversation, but rather must amplify black voices and act as non-optical allies. We must acknowledge our privilege and the fact that we will never understand. It is not enough to be “not racist” -- we must be anti-racist. Please take the time to educate and inform yourself, have conversations with family and friends, and help where you can. The list below is a good place to start.

For ways that you can help: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/


Resources to Educate Yourself: 






  • 13th (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix (A critical look at the systemic institutions that have for decades been perversely used in disenfranchising the United States’ Black population.)

  • Just Mercy (Destin Daniel Cretton) — Available to rent for free in June in the U.S. (Based on the best selling novel by Bryan Stevenson chronicling his lifelong journey working to combat unjust incarceration.)

  • When They See Us (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix (A retelling of the Central Park 5 and their wrongful conviction made possible through traumatizing and coerced confessions.)

  • Blindspotting (Carlos Lopez Estrada) -- Hulu, or available to rent (Explores the intersection of race and class; emphasizes white privilege and racial disparities.)


Mental Health Resources: 

Especially as neuroscience majors, it is exceedingly important that we acknowledge the impact that this continued racism and injustice has on the mental health of black people. Check on your black friends and family. Support black-owned businesses and black artists. Educate yourself. 


     For Black People Seeking Support:


   For Education:


  For Help/Donations: (in addition to previously-listed organizations!)

  • https://blackmentalhealth.com/ (Mission to develop, promote, and sponsor trusted culturally-relevant educational forums and referral services that support black health and well-being.)


This is only a small collection of resources, with far more extensive lists found here and here. Beyond these sources, there is much more additional media available around the internet and through important community action groups such as Black Lives Matter, Color of Change, NAACP, and countless other organizations and community activists. Please add any other resources to this list for reference by those interested in learning more. 


Our selections were chosen with two goals in mind: to amplify black voices and use our platform to help share these truths, and to provide resources for white and non-black POC to educate and inform themselves on the racial injustices that are prevalent throughout our communities and in our country, many of which are perpetuated by our everyday actions. We must take action against injustice, starting with honestly evaluating ourselves.


Please reach out with any comments or to begin a discussion. May this not be a conversation that we let end, but rather one that we continue to build on together as a community. Though today we address the NSBH major, these conversations and reflections go so far beyond just our community. You will be hearing more from us in the near future with actionable ways we can grow together towards a goal of equality, while reflecting on our own roles in perpetuating, consciously or unconsciously, systemic racism and injustice in our daily lives.


Please don’t hesitate to reach out with ideas on how best the Notre Dame NSBH community can move forward, fighting for change.




The Neuroscience and Behavior Senior Leadership Committee 

Kate Bockholt, Alex Nisbet, Katherine Mollenkopf, Irving Delgado, Abigayle Hughes, and Monica Mesecar


The University of Notre Dame Neuroscience and Behavior Advising Team

Dr. Rachel Branco - College of Science

Dr. Nancy Michael - College of Science 

Dr. Anre Venter - College of Arts & Letters



We were unable to find a current statistic for this percentage, but the following sources share information from 2017, 2018, and 2019 that reports that less than 4% of Notre Dame students are black. To avoid false reporting, we decided to make this statistic more vague, especially since the previous few classes have been slightly more diverse than their predecessors. However, we did want to maintain the emphasis that the population of black students at Notre Dame is the vast minority.