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George Floyd, Systemic Racism, and Anti-racism: A Faculty Statement from WVU’s Department of Sociology & Anthropology

 As faculty who study and teach on the subjects related to inequality and crime, community, and social justice, we join all of those who are sickened, angered, and heartbroken by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. It has long been our mission to explain how incidents like these--including the racism-fueled deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor--are not outliers but are part of the way our society operates. This form of bigoted, state-sponsored violence is deeply rooted in our country’s history and continues to manifest in our institutions. Those of us in privileged positions cannot be silent about the dangerous realities of life for black and brown Americans. All of us must take a stand and act in ways that disrupt and dismantle these systems of oppression. This is why we support the protests and all of those who are bravely marching in cities and towns throughout the country. 

At this university and in this department, we will not allow faculty, staff, and students of color to endure this struggle alone. We all must stand together and commit to action. As a department of sociology and anthropology, we are uniquely equipped with conceptual tools and methods for research and action, and we believe we are called to rise to this occasion with a strong voice. Therefore, we pledge to make our educational system more just, and by definition, anti-racist at every level we can. We commit to transcending rhetoric by engaging in anti-racist pedagogy and continuing to raise awareness of racism, sexism, and class-based injustice in all of our courses. In addition, as part of a public scholar mission, we will use our professional knowledge and privileged positions to inform the general public about inequality, race, ethnicity and intersectionality. We will work peacefully but forcefully to disrupt the institutions that perpetuate violence and commit grave harm to communities of color: this includes the police and criminal justice system. We know we are part of a wider struggle, and we will provide public spaces for dialogue to enhance understanding and plan action. Furthermore, we will strive to create a department atmosphere that is nourishing and supportive of all its members as part of our serious anti-racist work.