Solidarity With Our Students Against Racial Injustice

Solidarity With Our Students Against Racial Injustice

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Dear Students, 

The racist killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor in the US, and the continued and systemic brutality of the police and military forces deployed to quash anti-racist protests, are weighing heavy in our minds and hearts. Ongoing transnational protests have yet again brought the violences of interpersonal, institutional, and structural racism to the forefront of political and popular discourse. As we know, these recent killings are not a new phenomenon, and they are not isolated to the US. Sarah Reed. Mark Duggan. Stephen Lawrence. The UK has its own long racist heritage and a shameful contemporary history of institutional racism, violent abandonment, carceral killings, and detentions. Just the other day, a UK government report revealed how COVD 19 is disproportionately impacting BAME communities. The reasons are not hard to guess, but they do deserve urgent attention. 

In these extraordinary times of racial injustice and global pandemic, where systemic racist emergency and violence characterising the lives of black indigenous people of colour is again being made hypervisible in the wider body politic in some parts of the globe, we as a department want to both extend our thoughts and solidarity to you, as well as take a moment to collectively reflect on our commitments and actions. 

We know it can be extraordinarily difficult to witness and experience such flagrant state violence, particularly when many of us are both intimately connected to, yet geographically separated from it. This has been true for many of us across this year, from those affected by the continuing struggles  against settler colonialism in Palestine, and the protests for democracy and sovereignty in Hong Kong, to those struggling against India’s occupation and lockdown of Kashmir, and its passing of the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act, to those stricken by the authoritarian and violent response of the State to Chilean uprisings. Unfortunately, this list could go on. These are difficult political times, even without a pandemic exacerbating existing inequalities, and putting lives at unequal forms of risk. We know this has been a difficult year for all of you and that many of you are traumatised by the heightened racism directed at BAME communities under COVID 19. At the same time, we also want to recognise all of the incredible work that you have all produced throughout the year so far. It is extraordinary to be reading your urgent and insightful essays and research, to hear your emergent voices, and to witness your scholarly interventions. We hope that you will be completing this year with new tools in your belt that better equip you to make radical interventions into this world at a time when radical change is so desperately needed.    

Anti-racist pedagogy, scholarship, and activism is a process. It takes time, work, and commitment, and recognition of our own compromised positions. Racism—intersecting with heteronormativity, classism, sexism, transphobia, nationalism, casteism, ableism, coloniality—cannot so easily be ‘resolved’. Acknowledging this, however, does not relieve any of us from insisting that this work be done. Nor does it imply we have been always sufficiently adequate to the task. As a Department within the LSE, we are acutely aware of the enormously difficult, yet urgent work that we have to do. We hear the call of the protests to address structural racism and logics where and when we see it, and we struggle to transform the institution in which we labour. As scholars and administrators, we are committed to fostering and building anti-racist communities of learning, scholarship, and conviviality. We will also be amplifying and accelerating our actions over the coming weeks.  

To demonstrate our solidarity with you and with the anti-racist struggles working to dismantle white supremacist structures, here’s what we as faculty and staff at the department shall be re-committing ourselves to: standing in solidarity with the Student Union and calling upon the Directorate to firmly advocate for decolonising LSE’s curricula. We will continue to support the demands made by the LSE cleaners and catering staff for dignified working conditions and the extension of contracts for faculty on precarious contracts, many of whom are BAME. As an institution of learning, we will insist that the LSE acknowledge and seek to redress the intensification of inequalities resulting from the handling of the COVID crisis and its aftermath. We will be reminding the LSE of our previous commitments to provide more funding for BAME students, to redress its BAME attainment gap, and to systematically dismantle cultures of inequality and harassment, drawing attention to those areas where our words and processes are still not adequately aligned.  We will push for the recruitment, representation, acknowledgement and safe conditions of work for black faculty and staff at the LSE. To sum up, we will do all we can to ensure that the Department and the LSE do not just express but demonstrate our concrete commitment to anti-racist institutional culture and scholarship, and, more widely, to building an anti-racist world.  

In solidarity, 

The faculty and professional services staff of the Department of Gender Studies

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