Racial Justice and Community Support
July 02, 2020 English
A message from Amanda Bailey, Professor and Chair of the University of Maryland's Department of English
This past week we have had to contend with what it means to live in a society that continues to terrorize and criminalize Black and Brown people: the murder of George Floyd and the callous threatening of Christian Cooper; two heartbreaking events that resonate with the recent senseless murders of Nina Pop, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. These injustices have occurred in a context in which people of color are bearing a disproportionate burden of illness and death from Covid-19, and anti-Asian sentiments and xenophobic attacks have been on the rise. We acknowledge the brutality of structural racism and stand together in solidarity as we recommit to our stated values that include the emphatic condemnation of all acts of racism, sexism, ableism, classism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, antisemitism, and Islamophobia.
During a period of disorientation, illness, and loss occasioned by Covid-19, we as a department have prioritized the physical and emotional wellbeing of all members of our community. I ask that you exercise compassion towards yourself, your colleagues, and your students as we withstand the added strain of coping with the painful legacy and recurring instances of racial violence as we grieve, process and express our rage, and struggle with psychic exhaustion.
In this moment we reflect on what brings us together, which, at its most basic, is the choice to stake our working lives in an institution of higher learning. We made this decision because we believe that universities are guided by principled decision-making and the ethical resolve to confront systems of oppression and stand up in the face of injustice. Our teaching, research, activism, and daily interactions with colleagues necessitate an awareness of privilege and power in small and large ways every day, ideally, compelling us to act with conscience and conviction. We also share a commitment to the humanities, and right now, our humanity depends on our individual and collective efforts towards reckoning with systemic racism and white supremacy. Finally, we implicitly understand that the production and transmission of knowledge entails the imperative to hold ourselves and each other accountable for the way the world is today.
In the months ahead, the English Department will focus on allyship, advocacy, and activism via internal and public-facing actions and events, some of which may be in concert with other departments and campus entities and with the broader community we serve. This fall, the department’s IDEA Committee will create an Anti-Racist Action Plan with concrete recommendations for promoting an anti-racist workplace and classroom climate, as we identify the steps for combating racism and bias in our discipline, our fields, our department, and at this institution.
As we process the weight of these events, I remind you of campus resources: UMD's Office for Diversity and Inclusion, the Counseling Center, UMD's chaplains, the Office of Multicultural Involvement & Community Advocacy (MICA), Student Affairs leaders and staff, and others that can offer support. Here is a primer on responding to anti-Blackness(pdf). You can subscribe to ODI’s newsletter for future resources.
- A Statement of Values from the Department of English.
- A message from President Wallace D. Loh on community and solidarity at the University of Maryland.
- Statement by USM Leadership on Structural Racism and the Killing of George Floyd
- President-designate Darryll J. Pines Calls Acts of Violence Against Black Community Nationwide a ‘Stain’ Against UMD Values
- If you are interested in being in community with others, to process the pain, exhaustion, and fear, email the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at DiverseTerps@umd.edu.
- If you seek individual support, email Dr. Chetan Joshi, director of the Counseling Center, at email@example.com.
- If you seek spiritual support, email Campus Chaplain Holly Ulmer at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will connect you to other campus chaplains as needed.
- If you are interested in reading White Fragility or Me & White Supremacy, and discussing it with members of the community and leaders from embraceRace@umd.edu, email Student Affairs at email@example.com.
- If you are interested in working with your leadership team, unit, department or division to strengthen cultural competency, and engage in doing the work, email Dr. Carlton Green, director of Diversity Training and Education, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you want to connect with and/or receive support from leaders within our Nyumburu Center, email director Dr. Ron Ziegler at email@example.com.
- If you are a member of a cultural student organization, and want to be in community with others, email Brandon Dula, assistant director of Multicultural Involvement and Community Advocacy (MICA) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you have concerns or questions about current policies that could negatively impact you and members of your community, email Dr. Andrea Goodwin, director of Student Conduct, at email@example.com.
- If you would like to know more about our University of Maryland Police Department and its policies and protocols, email Chief David Mitchell at UMPDchief@umpd.umd.edu.
- MLA's Antiracist Resources for your 2020-2021 Teaching.
- JSTOR Daily's Institutionalized Racism: A Syllabus.