Even as we were grappling with the systemic racism laid bare by the COVID pandemic in the disproportionate loss of life in African America, Latinx, and Native communities and the targeting of Asian American communities, we are confronted by the more brutal expression of this enduring racism in the recent murder of George Floyd by four police officers, the killing of Ahmaud Aubrey while jogging by two white men, the shooting of Breoanna Taylor in her own home by police, and killing of Tony McDade, a transgender man also by police, among many others. We write to express our outrage and grief, recognizing the renewed pain and trauma to members of our own communities already struggling with the pandemic and the everyday forms of racism.
As Sociologists, we’re well equipped to understand the structural, institutional, policy, and interpersonal relations that reproduce systemic, everyday racism. Therefore, we bear a special responsibility to dismantle it. Hence, the faculty of the Dept. of Sociology commit through our research, teaching, and activism to work in solidarity and struggle with all those working for social justice in our department, on our campus (the hiring of Dr. Tuitt as UConn’s Chief Diversity Officer provides an important opportunity in this regard), in CT, and beyond.
We will work in collaboration with and informed by the many concrete suggestions advanced by our colleagues across the country and our professional organizations (see the links below for some examples from UConn’s Africana Studies Institute, ASA, SWS, Univ. of Minnesota, Brown University).
Concretely, in our department we can:
- Organize a teach in based on the work of our colleagues that is focused on specific anti-racist initiatives like Noel’s work on How to End the Killing of African American Men, Mary Bernstein’s Anti-Gun Violence project in CT, among others.
- Form partnerships through our internships and new Criminology Club (organized by Darrell) with local community based efforts to eliminate the prison-industrial complex
- continue the work we began with our graduate students around issues of climate
- task all our committees to formulate concrete steps to foster a departmental culture of equity and inclusion
- and most importantly as the statement from Dr. Carter, Dr. Johnson, and Dr. Jordan on Twitter notes: “There is no magic button, no quick fix. The weight of institutional racism, structural inequality, and oppression will not be lifted overnight. Instead, it requires each of us to reflect (rinse) and commit to this process (repeat) with intention.”