UCEA Statement on Racism and Recent Uprisings
Dear UCEA Members and Friends,
Events that have unfolded over the past few months remind us that the pernicious effects of racism are deeply-rooted in this country. The COVID-19 pandemic peeled back the systemic racial inequities that are closely coupled with disparate infection and death rates for African Americans and People of Color within the United States. Moreover, racist acts of violence that resulted in the brutal murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Nina Pop and countless others have shocked, dismayed, and traumatized our country and those within our UCEA community.
As an Executive Committee, and as the leadership of this organization, it is critical that we speak firmly and loudly against these atrocities and against all forms of State-inflicted carnage that is perpetrated on Black bodies and communities in this country and across the globe. We also fully recognize that it is not enough to simply condemn overt forms of racism that are publicly witnessed/observed. It is far too easy to denounce the brutal killings of unarmed Black people and convince ourselves that our “righteous” act was both brave and courageous.
The more difficult work is coming to terms with the fact that Anti-Blackness is present at all levels—macro, micro, individual, institutional, and societal. It is overt, but it is also well-hidden; it is present within each of us and within the very fabric of our organization. Only when we acknowledge its capillary and insidious nature, are we are better able to understand that Anti-Blackness is not an “outsider” problem that exists among bad people, but an “insider” problem that also exists within our beloved institutions. Because of this fact, we have a sacred obligation to do the necessary work to make UCEA a better professional home for our Black colleagues and graduate students.
The uprisings and protests we are witnessing in this country are clear indicators that our Black siblings are frustrated and outraged. We hear you. We see you. We stand with you in solidarity. This is not your fight alone. That said, we also recognize that we must follow the leadership of Black people in this struggle. In that spirit, we call on our White and non-Black colleagues to do some critical “internal” work to assess how your own engagement with these protests may be rooted in Anti-Blackness and other colonialist logics. We call on you to gauge whether you are “centering” your anguish, your pain, your sense of helplessness, your frustrations, and your expertise as you wrestle with how to best support your Black colleagues/friends/partners. The malignant effects of racism serve as a stark reminder that we must all be hyper-vigilant of the various ways in which Anti-Blackness functions at all levels.
We recognize that our Black colleagues are hurting, and are mindful of the pain and trauma these ongoing events cause. Know that we stand in solidarity with you and are working diligently to address how to move forward as an organization, mindful as well that our field must also move forward with us. In the interim, we reach out with words of encouragement and support to you and your loved ones. The world may be burning both literally and figuratively, but we are committed to the possibilities for transformation and making UCEA a more responsive, reflexive, and just community for all our Black brothers, sisters, and siblings.
Members of the Executive Committee