Statement on Current Protests and Racial Injustice

June 04, 2020

Dear Members of the GW Community,

The recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, George Floyd, David McAtee, and so many others that have ignited uprisings around the world make clear that there are the two paths before us: that of the state-sponsored stranglehold of white supremacy, and that of the power of people united for justice. The WGSS community remains firmly committed to the feminist principles of justice, liberation, and solidarity. We are clear-eyed about the fact that there is only one righteous path before us. We write to reaffirm our commitment to the Movement for Black Lives and to the fight for racial justice the world over.   

We recognize that white supremacy, colonialism, and capitalism are baked into the fabric of this nation, and that this legacy of dispossession and dehumanization touches our lives in different ways every day. As GW sits on stolen indigenous lands, as racism and xenophobia on campus go unaccounted for, as Black residents in parts of the city are forced to live in poverty while real estate developers profit from the gentrification of the district, and as police and military units unleash havoc and violence on peaceful protestors in our own backyard, we are humbled by the task before us. We also recognize that the Black and Brown communities have been disproportionately harmed on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this harm is part of the systemic racism inflicted against Black and Brown men, women, trans, queer, non-binary, and intersex people in America.

But we are also undaunted. WGSS, along with Black Studies and Ethnic Studies, were forged from protest, grounded in the belief that another world is possible. It is this alternative vision, imagined by past and present freedom fighters, that fuels our scholarship and activism. As feminists, we stand in solidarity with the Black community at GW and in the broader DMV. We stand in solidarity with those fighting the police violence in the streets and the fascism in the White House. And we stand in solidarity with those all over the globe whose collective actions against oppression are ushering in another, more just world, who understand that united we are powerful. 

We are proud to endorse the eloquent statement issued by GW’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement:  

“We, in ODECE, hold the GW community even tighter right now. We condemn racism and anti-Blackness, and the violence that has killed so many Black people. We acknowledge that racism and white supremacy are part of the foundation of this country, and we hope that each day our team in ODECE moves us closer to a more equitable and just future where a letter like this is not needed. We understand that many of our GW community members deal with, feel, and live with racism on a daily basis. For many Black people and communities of color, racism and state sanctioned violence are not new. What is new is today’s frequent filming of this violence, such that the world can see them in their most grotesque forms. Holding these atrocities up to the light is necessary, and they still take a toll on the hearts and minds of Black people all over the globe.

While many people continue to ask for a return to the 'normal,' we know that for Black people and those from historically marginalized communities, that means a continuation of oppression, injustice, hate, and violence. We have to create something better.”

Lastly, and most importantly, we applaud the inspiring student organizations, including the WGSS Student Association, the GW Black Men's Initiative (BMI), the Black Student Union, Students Against Imperialism, the South Asian Society, GW Women of Color, the Feminist Student Union, the Progressive Student Union, the GW Young Democratic Socialists of America, GW Allied in Pride, and others who are fellow travelers on this path with us. We also endorse the demands for change made by the Black Student Union and the Black Men’s Initiative at GW. Your work makes GW a university we can be proud of. 

The Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Program