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Last week, the scientist behind the great blog The Urban Scientist , DNLee, was approached by Biology Online for a once a month, unpaid writing gig. When she turned it down, the response from one of the site’s editors was — let’s just call it “unbelievable.” But to add injury to an insult, when she wrote about the experience on her blog, which is hosted by Scientific American, SA pulled the story. Isis the Scientist has been covering the story since it happened and looked into the situation with SA. She has interesting things to say about the mysterious disappearing blog post. But more importantly, as a friend of DNLee, she also has the text of the missing post. DNLee has given her permission to have her words reproduced and reblogged via Isis the Scientist. What follows is her account of the Biology Online interaction:

An image of an orange cloth featuring a teapot print.

wachemshe hao hao kwangu mtapoa

I got this wrap cloth from Tanzania. It’s a khanga. It was the first khanga I purchased while I was in Africa for my nearly 3 month stay for field research last year. Everyone giggled when they saw me wear it and then gave a nod to suggest, “Well, okay.” I later learned that it translates to, “Give trouble to others, but not me.” I laughed, thinking how appropriate it was. I was never a trouble-starter as a kid and I’m no fan of drama, but I always took this 21st century ghetto proverb most seriously:

Don’t start none. Won’t be none.

For those not familiar with inner city anthropology — it is simply a variation of the Golden Rule. Be nice and respectful to me and I will do the same. Everyone doesn’t live by the Golden Rule it seems. (Click to embiggen.)

Screen shot of an email exchange.pic-2-300x196

The Blog editor of Biology-Online dot org asked me if I would like to blog for them. I asked the conditions. He explained. I said no. He then called me out of my name.

My initial reaction was not civil, I can assure you. I’m far from rah-rah, but the inner South Memphis in me was spoiling for a fight after this unprovoked insult. I felt like Hollywood Cole, pulling my A-line T-shirt off over my head, walking wide leg from corner to corner yelling, “Aww hell nawl!” In my gut I felt so passionately:”Ofek, don’t let me catch you on these streets, homie!”

This is my official response:

It wasn’t just that he called me a whore — he juxtaposed it against my professional being: Are you urban scientist or an urban whore? Completely dismissing me as a scientist, a science communicator (whom he sought for my particular expertise), and someone who could offer something meaningful to his brand.What? Now, I’m so immoral and wrong to inquire about compensation? Plus, it was obvious me that I was supposed to be honored by the request.

A picture of a Black woman with curly hair.

After all, Dr. Important Person does it for free so what’s my problem? Listen, I ain’t him and he ain’t me. Folks have reasons — finances, time, energy, aligned missions, whatever — for doing or not doing things. Seriously, all anger aside…this rationalization of working for free and you’ll get exposure is wrong-headed. This is work. I am a professional. Professionals get paid. End of story. Even if I decide to do it pro bono (because I support your mission or I know you, whatevs) — it is still worth something. I’m simply choosing to waive that fee. But the fact is I told ol’ boy No; and he got all up in his feelings. So, go sit on a soft internet cushion, Ofek, ’cause you are obviously all butt-hurt over my rejection. And take heed of the advice on my khanga.

A picture of a Black woman with curly hair and glasses, drinking from a silver travel mug while sitting in front of an orange cloth with a teapot print.

You don’t want none of this

Thanks to everyone who helped me focus my righteous anger on these less-celebrated equines. I appreciate your support, words of encouragement, and offers to ride down on his *$$.

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