We write today to condemn systemic racism and to support the global anti-racist movements spurred by the recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. As a department, we recognize that faculty and students of color have long navigated a racist system built upon and maintained by rhetorical and physical violence against their populations and upheld today by white silence. Discussing race and our country’s racist legacy has long been a matter of survival for some citizens, and a voluntary choice for others. To ensure transformative justice, white folks can no longer choose to ignore how we/they are implicated in the oppression and silencing of our/their fellow community members. Assuming a collective “we” can flatten existing power relationships, but in this case, we have collective work to do.
Committing to anti-racism on a rhetorical level is an important starting point, but we believe there are specific anti-racist strategies we might employ at the departmental level to begin dismantling the system itself. Discussions are underway across the department to determine how we can make change collectively and concretely. This work is ongoing. These are the commitments we have come up with so far:
In solidarity, your professors,
Lucinda S. Bradley
David Langston, Emeritus
Mark D. Miller