Statement on diversity, equity, and inclusion
This is not yet another diversity or anti-racism statement, this is a charge. Many of us have been inundated with statements from universities, corporations, institutions, organizations, associations, sports leagues, and governmental units. We understand that some statement authors may be well intentioned. Other authors may be using the sudden comfort in saying words like "White supremacy," "racism," "racial violence," "anti-Blackness," and even "genocide." Still others may settle on words such as "privilege," "equality," etc. Very few of these authoring entities, however, have histories of grappling with these words and the real realities that they reflect. Within the multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary project of American Studies, as a field, this has been and will remain our scholarly, pedagogical, and social responsibility. We must think and consider: Who is the audience for these statements? The families of the deceased of state sanctioned killings, border crossings, and institutional violence? The abandoned and exploited communities in which those people lived? The organizations actively working for justice in their names and memories? Or is their audience the institutions of the state responsible in many ways for their deaths? The individual state actors who engaged in the act that resulted in the loss of life or loss of dignity? None of these are readers of these statements. And no statement can bring about justice. Where is the action?
We acknowledge that these statements and this charge come out of an ongoing spate of what some may call anti-Black repression in the United States that can also be extended to anti-Asian sentiment tied to the pandemic and anti-Latinx sentiment due to eugenic-based fears of "those people" being disease vectors. These are merely tips of an iceberg that includes but is not limited to, starvation wages, mass incarceration, lack of equitable quality health care, unjust legal and policy systems, displacement, failures of political representation, lack of affordable education, and prohibitions against using public space for recreation, and the gathering to demonstrate. We aspire to have more opportunities to accept and enroll, recruit and hire more Black and Brown graduate students and faculty who specialize in racial justice and whose work furthers the aims of that area of study.
This is not a statement, this is a charge. Caring, we suppose, is nice. Pledging to do better is quaint. Performing acts of care is kind. But changing the ways in which the world functions is a(n) (in)surmountable task that must be undertaken. It begins with recognizing and "outing" injustices, and the moral imagination of changing the ways that the world is reflected in our functioning, as a field and as individuals. Though hard work has always been the order of the day, we just might not have initially chosen that path. The Department of American Studies, in the spirit of the field, will be steadfast in cultivating and undertaking research that exposes injustice. The Department will be consistent in producing and offering thought-provoking, challenging courses and public-facing opportunities to teach. The Department will continue to encourage its members, wherever they are, to do whatever they can, no matter how small, to transform this reality where the need is the greatest.