We stand in solidarity with those combating racial violence and intersecting forms of oppression, and we are committed to working toward justice for all Black people. The violent murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Monika Diamond, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others by police officers and White vigilantes are reprehensible. They form part of the long history of racial violence against Blacks, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in the United States.
We recognize that the pandemic of racism extends beyond individual acts of violence to permeate all aspects of society. Black Americans are incarcerated at a rate five times greater than Whites.1 Furthermore, due to intertwining sociopolitical, economic, and environmental factors, Black Americans account for a disproportionate number of deaths during the current COVID-19 pandemic.2 We also acknowledge that BIPOC communities are the most vulnerable to climate change and environmental racism.3 These examples are only a few of the innumerable ways racism is manifest in the United States. Racist ideologies have always been embedded in the laws and norms of this country and underpin current inequities and structural violence.
As faculty and students at the University of Georgia, we further acknowledge that generations of enslaved persons built and maintained the University of Georgia through their labor. We decry the University's failure to recognize these individuals and its historic disrespect for their burial grounds on campus. Descendants of these enslaved individuals continue to form an integral part of the Athens community. Yet racialized economic inequality, racial violence, and other oppressive structures continue to be detrimental to the wellbeing of Black people in Athens. We support Athens community leaders in their petitions to the University to further recognize and redress its legacy of slavery.
The unjust social and material realities of our local communities and nation can be transformed through concerted, intentional efforts. We support those protesting against anti-Black violence, police brutality, and all forms of systemic oppression. We recognize our role in perpetuating injustices, including through our implicit biases. To contribute to efforts to dismantle White supremacy, racism, and colonialism, we commit to:
We recognize that this list is limited, and we will continue to expand our commitments to justice and equity.
Members of the Human and Environmental Change Lab
Cydney K. Seigerman
Shelly A. Biesel
John Ryan McGreevy
Bruno G. Ubiali
Donald R. Nelson
*The first bullet point commitment in this statement was edited on June 12, 2020 to better communicate our support for the entire Athens community working toward justice and against police violence.
1 Sabol, W. J.; Johnson, T. L.; and Caccavale, A. (2019). Trends in Correctional Control by Race and Sex. Washington, D.C.: Council on Criminal Justice. [Accessed 8 June 2020] https://cdn.ymaws.com/counciloncj.org
2 The COVID Tracking Project (2020). The COVID Racial Data Tracker. [Accessed 8 June 2020]. https://covidtracking.com/race.
3 Switzer, D., and Teodoro, M. P. (2017). The Color of Drinking Water: Class, Race, Ethnicity, and Safe Drinking Water Act Compliance. Journal - AWWA, 109(9), 40-45.
3 Bravo, M. A., Anthopolos, R., Bell, M. L., & Miranda, M. L. (2016). Racial isolation and exposure to airborne particulate matter and ozone in understudied US populations: Environmental justice applications of downscaled numerical model output. Environment International, 92-93, 247-255.
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