On June 4, I shared the following letter with members of our departmental community.
For days now, I have been seeking words and phrases that would express the depth of sadness and horror I feel about the murder of George Floyd, and the many unarmed people of color murdered before him on this soil that we call America, extending back to the 16th century. I have not found the right words, and from my position of privilege, I don’t know that I can. All I know is that these injustices cannot stand unchallenged. Institutional and systemic racism permeates our history as a nation, arising out of and sustained by the economic and sociopolitical self-interest of majority white people who are not native to this land. Police violence, white supremacy, and an unjust legal system rightly draw our outrage. COVID-19 has also thrown racial disparities in wellness and healthcare into stark relief, highlighting underlying racial inequities in education, home-ownership, wealth, and every dimension of our society.
If you have not yet read Deputy Vice Chancellor Patrick Sims’ blog post, When Will We Get It, I encourage you to read and think about his heartfelt call for action. If you are looking for anti-racist resources, many have been collected in this one document, and more can be found at https://nmaahc.si.edu/learn/talking-about-race.
I stand in solidarity with those who are lawfully protesting violence against people of color and fighting for racial justice in our nation. We have a moral, ethical, and disciplinary obligation to work towards equality for all, to reform the institutions that perpetuate racism, and to overcome the legacy of centuries of racism.
With many thanks to the colleagues and friends who took time to comment on an earlier draft of this statement and offer their support for it.
With hope for our future,
Chair, Department of Anthropology
University of Wisconsin-Madison