Humanities Statement for Black Lives Matter

Author: School of Humanities and Liberal Studies
June 20, 2020

The Humanities faculty stand with the Black Lives Matter movement in denouncing institutionalized racism and white supremacy. Like so many currently taking to the streets, we call for systematic, meaningful, transformative change to our social institutions and to our own imaginations. We firmly believe that justice cannot flourish under conditions of white supremacy. The fact that we need, still, to declare that Black Lives Matter highlights the force that history exerts upon the present and the limits of language in the face of hundreds of years of our nation's state-sponsored aggression against, and murder of, Black people.

At its heart, our program is devoted to the project of listening to the voices of writers, artists, and thinkers who unmask ideologies that facilitate oppression and who reveal the difficult and uncomfortable truths about the world we share, the world we call ‘home.’ As a humanities program with a global focus, moreover, one of our missions is to contribute to the de-colonization of the curriculum by de-centering Anglo-European perspectives and giving a central place to non-Western, non-European traditions. That said, we recognize that we can and must do better, particularly when it comes to Black voices around the world.

In moments like this one, of course, rhetoric comes easy. But moments like this one never call for easy rhetoric. They call for action. In this spirit, and with the goal of re-thinking our particular corner of the university, we pledge the following:

  1. We commit to support and build on the expertise of our faculty who incorporate Black Studies in their courses, and to prioritize such expertise in future hiring.
  2. We commit to making Black Studies a more central feature of our undergraduate and graduate curricula, beginning this Fall.
  3. We commit to encouraging our students to take those courses across campus — in Africana Studies, Race and Resistance Studies, History, and English (among others) — that center Black voices, for their Complementary Studies or for up to 9 units of electives in our major (as allowed for substitutions).

Beyond this, we commit to making sure these action items are only the beginning of a larger conversation among our faculty and students about what the aims and methods of a Humanities program in our day and age should be, and about how such a program can better serve its students, especially its students of color.

In solidarity,

The faculty of the Humanities program