We must say the names of victims of racial prejudice and violence. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Bothem Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, Philando Castile, Aiyana Jones ….These are just a few of the people who have been senselessly killed in the past several years due to the extreme violence and racism that Black people in the U.S. face daily. We must listen to their stories. We must not forget them.
The UMF English faculty condemns the treatment of Black people through extreme police force and demands an end to the systemic racism threatening the lives of BIPOC-people in this country. We are committed to the safety and well-being of our students of color. We acknowledge our responsibility in not doing enough to end the violence against Black people, and we pledge that we will work even harder to make our classrooms safe spaces for students to experience equality, respect, and justice.
As students and faculty in English, we understand the power of language and the need to listen closely to diverse voices in different cultural contexts. We must support actions to bring justice and peace. Therefore, we commit ourselves to talking about racism in America, to engaging in critical discourse about anti-racism, and to recognizing how racial violence and prejudice impacts Black Americans and people of color not only across the country, but also in our own communities–in our neighborhoods, places of worship, classrooms, and more.
The events of this week have been difficult for all of us. We recognize that they may have been especially difficult for our students of color. Moreover, we recognize that our students of color face many obstacles on a daily basis. If there are ways that we can support you beyond what we have outlined here, please let us know. One of the things we love about our community is the fact that it allows us to develop close relationships with our students: each one of you matters to us. We’re here, and we’re listening.