In solidarity with the protests calling for racial justice in Minneapolis and St. Paul, across the United States, and around the world, we, St. Lawrence University faculty teaching in African Studies, condemn the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery as well as the many other Black people whose deaths at the hands of law enforcement officers and private citizens have not been recognized in the national media. We condemn police brutality, anti-Black state-sponsored violence, white supremacy, and the systemic racism which dehumanizes and threatens the lives of Black people in the US and across the world. We condemn the deeply-rooted race-based socioeconomic inequalities made especially visible by the differential impacts of the covid-19 pandemic. Furthermore, we recognize the need to address racism on our own campus, in the community where we live, and in our academic disciplines.
In this moment, as African Studies faculty at a predominantly white institution, we recommit ourselves to our program goals: to challenge stereotypes of Africa and Africans, to convey the richness and complexity of cultural, social, political, and economic life on the African continent, to emphasize African agency and creativity in the course of African and world history, and to facilitate direct engagement with the African continent. We also rededicate ourselves to amplifying Black voices in our teaching and scholarship, to hearing and supporting Black students and colleagues on campus, and to bringing more Black perspectives to campus. Further, we stand in solidarity with scholars and activists who work to make visible historical and contemporary expressions of resistance to racism and colonialism on the African continent and in the African diaspora.
We recognize the challenges in understanding the different experiences and perspectives in our own campus community. Empathizing with the daily lived experiences of others takes work, and is central to our focus as scholars and educators. We commit ourselves to actively working towards dismantling racial prejudice and white privilege, and we stand with any students, faculty, staff, and community members who are working to build a more inclusive society both in and out of the classroom. Those among us who are white acknowledge our particular responsibility as faculty members, scholars, teachers, and individuals who are profoundly advantaged by systemic racism to step up to do that work and to do better.
We do not see this statement as an end in itself, but as a starting point. It is an expression of solidarity, values, and principles, and our work now will be to hold ourselves accountable to them, individually and together.