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GSS Commitment to Action

June 18, 2020

The GSS faculty denounces anti-black violence in all its forms, physical and discursive, near and distant, social or statutory, intentional or otherwise. We join calls heard around the nation to reject present and future societal arrangements premised on white supremacy.

We honor the principles of Black Lives Matter, an enterprise named and launched by black women. Through networks still often led by women and by queer and trans people, that movement imagines struggles against anti-blackness and against state-sanctioned and vigilante violence as a restorative organizing practice. These activists simultaneously proclaim a queer-affirming, trans-uplifting community open to all, “regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status, or location.”

#BLM principles reflect how analytics of gender and sexuality studies provide supportive tools for undertaking antiracist work and fighting police brutality as well as other systemic enactments of anti-blackness. #BLM also demonstrates that protest is world-making, expansive, and loving. We learn from and stand in solidarity with the vision of social justice modeled by these activists.

Like these activists, GSS scholars know that inequities and vulnerabilities fueled by anti-blackness and racism—the issues driving our current moment and prompting this statement—are inextricable from those linked to misogyny, patriarchy, homophobia, and transphobia. As a unit founded in protest of structural and historical subjugation, we feel a responsibility to work against all of these forms of violence and their multiple intersections.

We pledge to make our syllabi, classrooms, and conversations more reflective of our antiracist convictions. We will continue challenging and educating each other as faculty to better fulfill this mission. We invite candor about when and how our efforts in these areas fail or fall short.

Even as current faculty take up these tasks, we have petitioned to fill our newly-vacated line in black feminism as soon as possible. We will also continue pushing for more tenure lines in other feminisms of color, trans and nonbinary studies, queer of color critique, and other fields currently under-represented in GSS, which explicitly name antiracism as fundamental to all liberation projects.

We are heartened by the protests that have escalated in recent weeks, in which many GSS faculty, students, and staff have participated. Our sense that real change might be possible has gathered strength, not least because the generations that encompass our graduate and undergraduate students have shown such resilient leadership on these issues.

We want to act in closer community with our students, taking collaborative steps to decenter whiteness and build better worlds. We are exploring different models for reading and working groups, internal colloquia, and other solidarity-building spaces and events we can launch as early as Fall 2020. In the meantime, we add our voices, both individually and collectively, to those of the millions now demanding real social and political change.