Black Lives Matter 2020
Below is a collection of statements released by the Brandeis community in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery, all African Americans who were killed in 2020. These statements were released during a period of civil unrest and global protests against anti-Black racism and police brutality.
Dear Members of the Brandeis Community,
Black Lives Matter.
Last week, I wrote to all of you saying violence against Black people must stop. The killing of George Floyd by police was inhuman, contemptible, and tragic. We gathered together virtually, and I heard many of you express outrage, fear, and the exhaustion of living with cruel racism in your lives and on our campus.
I said then that we must do more; we must do better.
In that spirit, I am announcing an initiative that will transform our campus and address systemic racism. I have asked key administrators to develop and submit action plans in the next 90 days.
These action plans must include ongoing, significant engagement with members of the campus community. We must listen, and understand the kinds of systemic racism, bias, and ill-treatment experienced by Black members of our community. But we must go further than dialogue and understanding. We must rapidly move toward concrete change.
The action plans I am calling for must be transformational, including new approaches regarding the roles and responsibilities of Public Safety, the Department of Community Living, Human Resources, Athletics, the Academy, and all of us who are charged with creating and sustaining a safe, respectful environment for learning and living.
Action plans must be developed with broad input from diverse constituencies. Black students, Black student organizations, other students of color, other student organizations, faculty, members of each of the aforementioned departments, and other staff should all be invited to be part of the drafting process.
I am asking the following administrators to develop and submit these action plans by September 1:
Executive Vice President Stew Uretsky, Vice President of Campus Operations Lois Stanley, Vice President for Human Resources Robin Switzer, and Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police Ed Callahan for the plans for Public Safety and Human Resources
Vice Provost for Student Affairs Raymond Ou, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Tim Touchette, and Director of Athletics Lauren Haynie for the plans for Community Living, Residential Life, and Athletics
Provost Lisa Lynch, Dean Eric Chasalow, Dean Dorothy Hodgson, Dean Katy Graddy, Dean David Weil, and Vice President Lynne Rosansky for the plan for the Academy and its constituent Schools
Despite concerted efforts to address past incidents on campus, discrimination and bias continue to be issues for us at Brandeis. While we have piloted a number of initiatives, most of them voluntary in nature, across the university, we are committed to a more comprehensive approach to addressing racism in order to build stronger, more respectful relationships within the community.
Our university was founded on principles of inclusion that are as relevant today as they were in 1948. As I said at the community virtual gathering last week, we have not always lived up to our ideals, but those ideals — our values — point us in the right direction. The administration and I are committed to moving beyond “business as usual” and requesting voluntary efforts for change. We must work together to build a community that is diverse, welcoming, and free from bias and discrimination.
Dear Members of the Brandeis Community,
George Floyd’s killing was cruel, inhumane, and contemptible. The injustice of violence against black people must stop.
The history of our great university is intertwined with the pursuit of justice. Brandeis was created in response to antisemitism and bigotry. We cannot tolerate discrimination, hatred, or violence against another person based on their race, religion, or background. These values are as important today as they were at our founding.
These are not just words or noble ideas. These are principles that inspire us at Brandeis to educate, to learn, and to act.
With that in mind, I join with Mark Brimhall-Vargas, chief diversity officer, in calling for us to come together, even if virtually. In the message Mark sent on Friday, he mentioned two different events happening this week. The Heller School is hosting a conference, “Co-Constructing Racial Justice through Life and Work.” And Mark will host “Coming Together to Face Systemic Racism.” I hope you will join me in attending both.
As Brandeisians, not all of our experiences are shared ones. We come from different backgrounds and have different perspectives. But I know that there are some things we have in common. This includes an unwavering commitment to justice, equity, and inclusion. It includes respecting other people, no matter their background.
I hope to see you at one of the events tomorrow or the next day. Let us come together to express our commitment to ending racist violence.
The Brandeis University Alumni Association mourns the cruel and senseless killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and all others who have been the victims of anti-Black racism and violence in the U.S.
We stand in solidarity with the Black community in the fight against systemic racism and in the pursuit of social and racial justice. The fight for justice is deeply embedded in Brandeis’ history, as President Liebowitz reinforced in his latest message.
Last week, more than 700 members of the Brandeis community gathered virtually to attend “Coming Together Against Systemic Racism” and to engage with one another around these issues. To our Black students, alumni, faculty and staff who bravely spoke up about the racialized interactions they’ve experienced on the Brandeis campus and beyond: We hear you and we commit to helping dismantle anti-Blackness at Brandeis.
The resounding takeaway from the call is a need for action more than words. As an Alumni Association more than 60,000 members strong, imagine the collective impact we could have if each one of us commits to taking action.
In keeping with Brandeis’ founding values of social justice and inclusivity, we need to advance racial justice through meaningful steps, both large and small. As Alumni Association board members, we will:
Provide ongoing training sessions about systemic racism, unconscious bias and prejudice, led by internal and external experts, for all Alumni Association board members and Alumni Relations staff. The Brandeis Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion has committed to leading the first session.
Reevaluate board policies, programs and initiatives to ensure racial equity. For example, we will examine our board member nomination process to identify opportunities to increase racially and ethnically diverse applicants.
Support student, faculty and staff-led initiatives to reduce and eliminate campus policing practices and community behaviors that negatively impact Black students.
As individuals, we invite our fellow alumni to join us in participating in these immediate ways:
Attend an important virtual panel with Brandeis faculty this Friday, June 12, at noon ET, “America’s Racial Reckoning: Black Lives and Black Futures in Historical, Political and Legal Context,” moderated by Chad Williams, the Samuel J. and Augusta Spector Chair in History and the Chair of the African and African American Studies department. Panelists include: University Professor Anita Hill; Daniel Kryder, the Louis Stulberg Chair in Law and Politics; and Leah Wright Rigueur, the Harry Truman Associate Professor of History. Learn more at www.brandeis.edu/streaming and submit questions for the panelists in advance through this Google Form.
Review this list of opportunities to support, learn and engage provided by the Brandeis Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at last week’s virtual gathering.
Education is a powerful tool. To build upon the list above, we’re collecting additional resources produced by Brandeisians around race, combatting racism and how to enact change. Share your resource(s) here. Submissions could include scholarly articles, literature and children's books; films, paintings and other works of art; and websites, organizations and institutes.
While we can’t control the actions of others, we can control our own. We encourage all alumni to think of one individual action you will commit to taking to advance racial justice in your community. Share your action through the same link (sample actions are provided in the form), and we’ll publish an online list of our submissions to showcase the collective power of the Brandeis network.
Whether it is through steps like these or the many other efforts by individual and organizational change makers, we must act. Our participation matters. Black lives matter.
The Brandeis University Alumni Association Board of Directors
Daniel Acheampong ’11, BOLD National Co-Chair
Shota Adamia ’15
Pamela K. Anderson ’79
Elizabeth Fields Asen ’13
Rebecca Bachman ’13, BOLD National Co-Chair
Amy Bard ’79
Samantha Barrett ’20
Jessica Bergman ’91, FOBA President
Denise Silber Brooks ’84, P’16
Lewis Brooks ’80, P’16, President
Gabi Burkholz ’21
Christine Chilingerian ’07, Co-President, Alumni Club of Philadelphia and Southern NJ
Joel Christensen ’01, Faculty Representative
Amy L. Cohen ’85, Vice President and Co-Chair, Brandeis Women’s Network
Susan Deutsch ’62
Yaron Dori ’92
Daniela Egan ’04, Co-President, Alumni Club of Greater Boston
Jim Felton ’85
Jennifer Gibson, IBS MBA’12
Serena Gober ’07, President, Alumni Club of South Florida
Alex Goldstein ’06
Alexander P. Heckler ’98
Liane Hypolite ’10, Co-Chair, Alumni of Color Network
Dmitry Isenberg ’97, President, Alumni Club of Connecticut
Francyne Davis Jacobs ’95, President, Alumni Club of Houston
Kai Keller ’07
Fred Kessler ’75, P’10
Carolyn Gray Kimberlin ’99
Leslie Effron Levin ’94, President, Alumni Club of Westchester County, New York and Southern Connecticut
Risa Levine ’83, Vice President
Napoleon Lherisson ’11, Co-Chair, Alumni of Color Network
Amy Merrill ’69, Co-Chair, Brandeis Arts Network
David Morris ’96, Chair, Brandeis Lawyers Network
Jose Perez ’75, Vice President
Brandon Pick ’08, Vice President, FOBA
Talee Zur Potter ’97, Co-Chair, Brandeis Women’s Network
Noah Prawer ’01
Steven W. Rabitz ’92
Janna Rosenberg ’02
Len Rosenberg ’89, President, Alumni Club of Northern California
Alyssa Sanders ’89
Jonathan Sclarsic ’03
Antony Stern ’08, IBS MA’09
Mark Surchin ’78, Immediate Past President
Vipin Suri, PhD’01
Hanna Switlekowski ’13, Co-President, Alumni Club of Greater Boston
Steve Wander ’97, President, Alumni Club of Chicago
Shen Wang ’20
Brett Ward ’97, President, Alumni Club of New York City
Ora Wexler ’04, Co-President, Alumni Club of Toronto
Shelly Wolf ’64
Andrew Zeitlin ’90, P’22
Michael Zinder ’75
Brandeis Asian American Students Association - BAASA and BAATF Brandeis Asian American Task Force commit to showing up for Black lives.
We, Asian American students at Brandeis University, stand in solidarity with Black people and Black trans people in the United States and the Black Lives Matter Movement. We demand justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and the thousands unnamed. We recognize the anti-blackness perpetuated by our own communities in our families and on campus, and that we MUST do better. Given that AAPI Heritage Month has just concluded, we urge our community to think deeply about how our oppression as Asians is inherently tied to the oppression of Black people. The privileges and benefits afforded to Asian Americans are due largely to the work of Black activists. Without Black solidarity and liberation movements, we would not have our political identity as “Asian American”. We commit to showing up for Black people by actively practicing anti-racism: to listen to Black people, educate ourselves, take action, use our privilege, and learn from our mistakes. We will hold our communities accountable, starting with those who we consider family and friends. Below are some compiled resources to learn more, take action, and donate to Black-led organizations and bail funds.
Being vocal on social media is not enough. If you have class privilege or financial means to donate, use it where it matters. Your discomfort about wealth does not outweigh the lived realities of anti-black state violence and anti-blackness at large.
BAASA & BAATF's full list of compiled resources (places to donate, recommended readings, and ways to take action) can be found at bit.ly/303YVxM #blacklivesmatter #blm #asiansforblacklives
Over the past two weeks, many people throughout our nation have borne witness to a series of racially motivated attacks on black men, women and children, and other oppressed and minoritized people. Emotions are raw, and rightfully so. Brandeis Athletics is committed to supporting our student-athletes, coaches, and staff in these turbulent times. More importantly, we will work together, both in our department and with our campus colleagues to build the inclusive community we all hope to see.
Dear Brandeis Community,
First and foremost, Black lives matter. This is an undeniable truth. Current events, however, have made it clear that racism, largely directed at members of our nation’s black community, is alive in America. Racism is a wicked and powerful force that has the potential to negatively influence our present at the detriment of our future. Acts of racism stands against the inalienable rights we all share and pillars of equality and justice for all people.
Our community is saddened, angry and frustrated over the recent killing of George Floyd, and others who have lost their lives, because of senseless police brutality. The images we have seen on the news, both of George Floyd’s murder and of the police response to protesters, have been disturbing, shocking, and heartbreaking. Yet, we must not turn a blind eye and instead we must unequivocally acknowledge that institutionalized racism in our country is a serious problem we have not adequately addressed. This is a problem that is bigger than our academic community at Brandeis, but that does not mean that we cannot act. Together we have what it takes to push society in a more equitable direction.
In order to work towards justice and denounce racism we the Diverse Brandeis Scholars and Black Graduate Student Association have drafted this email to discuss where we have succeeded as a community and where we can improve. We have succeeded as a community because we are here. We are people of color, we are women, we are queer, we are diverse and at Brandeis, we celebrate our differences on equal ground. The Diverse Brandeis Scholars group and Black Graduate Student Association are testament to the success of our academic communities’ opposition to racism. To continue our growth, we must acknowledge where we fall short. We want to extend an invitation to all the members of our community to reflect on the current events and think about what we can do as individuals and as a society to move forward together. This is the time to think about your biases, your role in society, and how you can stop perpetuating racism. This is an opportunity to listen to the voices that need to be heard.
Dear Brandeis Students, Faculty, Staff, Alumni, and All Members of the Brandeis Family,
The videos of Black people being killed by police have appalled us, but rarely, if ever, do videos capture the routine ill-treatment, inequities, and indignities inflicted on Black Americans every day. Sadly, as we know, on our own campus, there has been unequal and biased treatment of Black members of our community.
We, the Board of Trustees, want to acknowledge and state emphatically that Black lives matter.
The Brandeis Board of Trustees is committed to creating a campus community that is an exemplar of how people of many nationalities, races, ethnicities, and differences can live together comfortably with dignity, respect, and equity, excluding no one. As a community, we try to be committed to social justice at home and abroad, but we have not done nearly enough. This Board of Trustees is determined that this University will do the work necessary to bring change to our campus and country.
We know our work must be accelerated. Together we can make a real difference.
Meyer G. Koplow ’72, P’02, P’05, Chair, Board of Trustees
Frances R. Bermanzohn ’78, Vice-Chair, Board of Trustees
Daniel J. Jick ’79, P’09, P’12 Vice-Chair, Board of Trustees
Ronald D. Liebowitz, President, Brandeis University
Leslie M. Aronzon ’84
Jayne G. Beker, P ’99, P’04, P’15
Cynthia L. Berenson, G’13
Bonnie A. Berger ’83
Deborah Bial ’87, H’12
Lewis H. Brooks ’80, P’16
Steven M. Bunson ’82
Jonathan G. Davis ’75
Barbara A. Dortch-Okara ’71
Nancy A. Dreyer ‘72
Madalyn F. Friedberg
Ronald L. Kaiserman ’63, P’07
Ellen L. Kaplan '64
Stephen B. Kay, H’08
Joshua M. Kraft
Lisa R. Kranc ’75
George D. Krupp
Martin R. Kupferberg ’81, P’19
Georg B. Muzicant ’02, MA’03
Sylvia M. Neil
Monique L. Nelson
Gregory A. Petsko
Adam J. Rifkin ’97
Carol R. Saivetz ’69, P’97, P’01
Barbara Z. Sander
Mindy L. Schneider ’75, P’17
Cynthia D. Shapira
Malcolm L. Sherman, P’83, H’14
Mark A. Surchin ’78
Curtis H. Tearte ’73
Perry M. Traquina '78, H'19
Barton J. Winokur, H’01
Lan Xue ’90, MA’91
Xiru Zhang, MA’90, PhD’91, P’22
The past week has been one of immense difficulty in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. Such a devastating act of racial injustice further highlights the inequality and intolerance that people of color, especially Black Americans, face on a daily basis. This same intolerance affected Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many more in our country, emphasizing our need to speak out. We as a community strongly condemn police brutality and racism. We support the entire Black community and all those standing up against this injustice.
Rabbi Akiva taught us ” ואהבת לרעך כמוך ”, “you shall love your fellow as yourself”. This is how we all strive to live, with undeniable love for one another despite difference. As a community we must channel that love towards others regardless of race, color, or ethnic group. The Jewish community, itself made of people from a diverse array of backgrounds and ethnicities, stands in solidarity with all those facing unjust hatred and oppression.
The Brandeis Student Union has compiled a document of educational resources for the Brandeis community. We encourage everyone to utilize these resources as we come together to fight racism and discrimination. Please consider reaching out to groups such as the Brandeis Black Student Organization (BBSO) to show solidarity.
We encourage you to contact Hillel staff, OU-JLIC educators, or University Administrators during these difficult times. We hope and pray that a resolution is made that allows each individual to be treated and viewed with respect.
Shabbat Shalom,Kyra Fischer President, Brandeis Orthodox Organization
Tirtza Schramm, Vice President, Brandeis Orthodox Organization
Brandeis Orthodox Organization (BOO) Board
Dear Brandeis Community,
I’m writing to you today to express my deep sadness and anger at the recurring examples of racist violence against black people across the United States, made worse at this time by the inequitable impact of COVID-19 on our communities of color. Simply, our black and brown students, faculty and staff are carrying the extra weight of systemic racism in addition to the pandemic’s challenge. Right now, this burden is acute.
One response is coming together. Though we are physically apart right now, it is important to have a collective place to share, learn, express ourselves and support one another.
I would like to invite every member of the Brandeis community to two events next week where we might renew our bonds and engage around the impacts of systemic racism:
The Heller community will host an online (and timely) conference on the topic of racial justice called the Sankofa Community Conference: Co-Constructing Racial Justice through Life and Work. This conference will take place as follows:
Dates: Tuesday, June 2 and Wednesday, June 3
Time: 12:30 p.m. each day
Place: Online. Information and registration are available on this form.
In between these two conference sessions, I will co-host a live, interactive Zoom gathering called “Coming Together to Face Systemic Racism” where we can connect, reflect and challenge ourselves to directly engage the topic of systemic racism to ensure that the lived experience of Brandeis University reflects our deepest values of diversity, equity and inclusion. This event will take place as follows:
Date: Tuesday, June 2
Time: 5 p.m.
Place: Online. Note: For security, you will need to register for this gathering with your Brandeis email address. This webpage offers information about accessing Brandeis Zoom.
If you need resources and support at this time, please visit the “Support at Brandeis” website.
Equity and respect for people – regardless of the color of their skin, religious beliefs or background — are among our most important foundational values at Brandeis. It is my sincere hope that you and yours are as safe as possible and that you can join us in learning about, discussing and combating systemic racism.
Please contact me directly if you have any questions.
As we strive together,
Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
In light of recent events, we want the entirety of our black community to know that we stand in solidarity with your anger, your fears, your exhaustion, and your voices. These past few weeks have set ablaze a tumultuous time for the black community but our plight is not new. America’s unjust system has resulted in continuous violence against black bodies. We encourage you to support black friends, be cautious of (re)posting videos that document violence against black bodies, and be cautious of images that have been circulating as a tactic of performative activism.
Our hearts go out to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the many who have transitioned at the hands of unwarranted aggression against Black bodies. May their souls rest.
We would also want to bring attention to the passing of Tony McDade whose presence and story should not go silent. We stand by the Black trans and gender non-conforming community whose stories are seldom highlighted. We see you. Read more about Tony McDade here.
To educate yourself on the injustice against Black Trans Women read here.
We want to encourage all in our communities to remember and care for their mental wellness as well as support our brothers and sisters as silence cannot be an option.
Resources for Black and Brown individuals:
Lastly, we want to remind everyone that this is not a fad. Our problems are institutionalized and that means that we may never stop fighting for change. This intense time of protest should never end but should continue in our conversations, campaigns, politics and echo in our future policies at every level individual and institutional level. We urge the brandeis community to stand with those protesting for change.
Dear GSAS community,
Like all of you, I witnessed the terrible events of the past week with utter dismay. The sad reality is that the violence we have seen in the news in the past few weeks is only the most recent evidence of the overt racism that people of color, particularly black people, are forced to endure every single day. The fact that these events occurred during a pandemic that is disproportionately impacting communities of color makes them all the more distressing. For me, these scenes evoked feelings of anger, grief, disappointment and exhaustion that have become all too familiar in recent years. I acknowledge that our faculty, staff and students of color are experiencing much more significant burdens at this moment.
Our entire community must shoulder the responsibility of combating systemic racism, particularly those of us who benefit routinely from unearned racial privilege. Earlier today, Mark Brimhall-Vargas invited every member of the Brandeis community to two events that will provide an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to inclusion and equity. The first is a conference hosted by our colleagues at the Heller School called the Sankofa Community Conference: Co-Constructing Racial Justice through Life and Work. Dr. Brimhall-Vargas will also co-host a session called Coming Together to Face Systemic Racism on Zoom. I plan to participate in both sessions, and I have asked the GSAS staff to do the same. I encourage all GSAS students to attend if they have the capability. Please note that you will need to register before the events take place.
None of us should need recent events to remind us that we must work every day to live up to the Brandeis commitment to inclusion, truth and justice. That work includes recognizing the evil of structural racism and doing what we can, individually and collectively, to understand and delegitimize the sources of its power. We have a tough job ahead if we intend our stated values to be more than mere platitudes, but rather intentional efforts to create a fairer and safer world. While we can all be proud that our university graduates so many scholars who dedicate their lives to improving society, we also need to pledge to each other to create an environment here at Brandeis characterized by the deepest mutual respect, where all students, staff, and faculty can flourish.
If you are struggling during this difficult time, I strongly encourage you to rely on the resources offered by the University, which I have included below. If you have any kind of feedback for me or my staff, relating to our response to COVID-19 or issues of inclusion and equity at GSAS, I encourage you to contact us directly. You may also use the form on our website, which gives you the opportunity to submit feedback anonymously.
CAST Commitments, in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter
The interdisciplinary program in Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation (CAST) condemns white supremacy, anti-Black violence, police brutality, the school-to-prison pipeline, and the many additional everyday violences against Black people through which individuals, groups, and institutions in the United States perpetuate the legacy of slavery and benefit from doing so.
We commit to work toward repairing the racial, gender, economic, and environmental injustices, health disparities, and erasure of heritage that continue to situate Black lives as less valuable and more disposable than white lives.
Black lives matter. Black flourishing matters.
We renew our commitment to centering and advancing the knowledges, creativity, languages, and vision of our Black students and colleagues.
We renew our commitment to fostering antiracist, decolonizing, Indigenous, and intersectional perspectives and values in our teaching and learning. We commit to exploring our own biases, as teachers and researchers, and encourage our students to join us in this vulnerability. We will continue to offer trainings and resources to aid our colleagues in the decolonization of their teaching practice. We will also continue to develop core CAST electives analyzing structural inequalities and oppression and case studies of attempts to transform these. We will reflect on our roles as artists, researchers, and change agents in combating forms of oppression, including violent policing. We will create forums for the discussion of intersectionality through our events, exhibitions, design labs, and academic work. We will host student-centered events and art installations in the 2020-21 academic year that actively tackle issues of racism and internalized bias and center the creativity and perspectives of Black students.
We acknowledge that as researchers, artists, and change agents we stand on the traditional land of the Massa-adchu-es-et (Massachusett).
We commit to using our privileges and resources as a predominantly white program, one that has itself benefited from a legacy of white supremacy, to create space for our students and colleagues with fewer privileges to do their own work, ask their own questions, and advance their own conclusions.
We ask our white colleagues and students to reflect on their privileges and inherent biases, and to use their privilege and resources to support, listen to, and amplify the leadership, knowledge, and demands of their Black, brown, and Indigenous peers. We commit to providing opportunities for our Black, brown, and Indigenous peers, students, and colleagues to create beauty and joy.
We celebrate the courage, resistance, creativity, wisdom, and hope of our students and colleagues who, protesting and struggling against white supremacy and racist violence, at the same time affirm that Black, brown, and Indigenous voices are vital.
We understand these statements as governing how we, as instructors and learners, develop and teach CAST-designated courses and how we review courses for cross-listing with CAST.
We will utilize our time together to hold each other to these commitments and ensure accountability.
Anna Cass, Undergraduate Departmental Representative
Aviva Davis, Undergraduate Departmental Representative
Thomas A. King, Co-chair
Toni Shapiro-Phim, Co-chair
We, the Brandeis University Department of Anthropology faculty, graduate students and staff, in no uncertain terms condemn the state-sanctioned murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and the countless others who have been killed by police. We collectively, vehemently affirm that Black lives matter. These words are important. They are necessary to say, acknowledge, and hold space for amid a contentious present in which Black life is persistently devalued, targeted, and oppressed. We write this statement between two pandemics; anti-Black racism and Covid-19, fully aware that Black Americans will continue to bear an unequal burden of both. We acknowledge the weight of this inequality; we also stand in solidarity with the protests happening across the United States and around the world.
We maintain that the fight for Black lives and the work of disassembling systems of white supremacy are interwoven with issues of immigrant, indigenous, environmental, economic, trans, and disability rights. As anthropologists, we have staked our lives and our careers on studying, theorizing, and critiquing the myriad forms of inequality that have come to disproportionately affect the lives of Black people in this country and globally. Our passion for this work fuels and energizes our department, but also warrants critical reflection in these uncertain times. Amid these twinned pandemics, we continue to ask what are our responsibilities as anthropologists, scholars, and people? And to put it more starkly, what debts does our chosen discipline owe to Black lives?
It is no secret that anthropology has had a complicit and active role in imperial projects, military occupation, and the production and dissemination of racist ideologies. That history is evident even in some of our most prized and beloved texts, from the uncritical usages of words like “savage” and “primitive” in earlier works to the absence of Black anthropologists in major debates, references, footnotes and citations. Thus, anthropology’s vexed relationship to Black life and Black thought is perhaps not a mere coincidence, but rather a foundational problem for anthropology. To paraphrase Black anthropologists Jafari Allen and Ryan Jobson, from its founding moments, Black people have troubled anthropology’s “search for an unblemished object of study—a pristine native” that could be juxtaposed to modern, rational, Western man. This foundational erasure signals both the unpursued intellectual challenges of engaging with Black people and the afterlives of centuries of “colonial domination and global capitalist proliferation,” that are ever present in our discipline.
And despite decades of reflexivity, spirited debates about the manifestations of race as structure, and newly adopted languages of diversity, equality, and inclusion, problems persist. While the lives of Black people within the United States and the larger diaspora have been valuable to the careers of prominent anthropological scholars, Black lives in their fullness, complexity, and fecundity have been less central to the discipline and its canon. From Anténor Firmin to John Wesley Gilbert to Zora Neale Hurston, the contributions of early Black anthropologists have often been overlooked in anthropological teaching and scholarship. As the Open Syllabus project suggests, in the top 1000 texts taught across 41,000 anthropology syllabi, only nine texts were authored by Black scholars. This jarring fact is a stark reminder that though we have cultivated sophisticated skill sets for deconstructing race and talking about its structures, that scholarly power is overshadowed by race’s “lethal social reality;” its material manifestations.
As anthropologists, it is our responsibility to engage with not just the intellectual stakes of racism but also its material realities. We commit ourselves to taking up that responsibility in our teaching and conversations as a department and to question who we cite and why, what we assign to our students, and who we engage with as a department and a community. We know our work has been far from perfect, so going forward, we also commit ourselves to actively listening to critiques and challenges to our programming, curricula, and pedagogy and to implement the necessary changes to resolve those challenges and make our work more just, inclusive, and equitable. We also recognize that the work of racial justice cannot simply rely on the production of academic knowledge. Therefore, we firmly believe that we must also critically engage, unpack, and divest ourselves of white supremacy and anti-Blackness in our work, in our conversations, and in the larger institutional life of our department and our University. To this end, we also commit ourselves to the following actions:
- Decolonizing and consistently revising/revisiting our curricula. This will be an ongoing process that will be greatly enriched by conversations amongst ourselves and with students
- Inviting speakers that include artists, community activists, and organizers working on issues related to Black Lives Matter, prison abolition, police reform and defunding, and related matters
- Building programming and events with other departments centered around these issues
4. Inviting more black scholars to participate in our symposia, BARS, and other elements of departmental intellectual life
- Continuing to push for target of opportunity hires and postdoctoral fellows whose work intersects with issues of race/racism, policing and police violence, incarceration, and other timely issues
- Establishing a department collection and donation to an organization working on issues related to racial justice, anti-policing, and/or dismantling white supremacy
As a department and a community, we maintain solidarity with the global movements against police violence, racial injustice, and the degradation of Black lives. As academic anthropologists we encourage our colleagues in other universities across the world to join us in our condemnation of police-sponsored violence against Black people and racist policing. We also call on major professional organizations like the American Anthropological Association, Society for Cultural Anthropology, and Society for American Archaeology to not only stand in solidarity with current protests against racist policing and violence against Black people but also to take more significant steps to create platforms and programming for scholars and scholarship engaged with issues of Black life and survival.
These steps are just the beginning of an ongoing and necessary pathway towards social justice within our department and the larger community. We know that there is much to be done and hope that you will join us in committing to do that work. Below are some Campus, Community, and Academic resources for continuing the conversation. We have also included local and national organizations to support during these ongoing crises.
George Van Kollias III
Patricia Alvarez Astacio
V Varun Chaudhry
**Please note that not all members of the community are currently available, and that the absence of any individual's signature on this letter implies neither support, nor lack thereof, for this letter**
Faculty, students, postdocs and staff in the Biology Department continue to be outraged and to condemn the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many others. Expanding upon the contributions of Biology Department community members to statements released by various campus groups, we seek to reinforce our Department values with this statement.
Systemic racism, including, but not limited to inequitable opportunities for members of the Black community, is part of the fabric of our institutions, including our educational, scientific and health care systems. Excellence in science is enhanced by a diversity of people, perspectives and backgrounds. We recognize the work of many individuals at Brandeis University and in our science programs to build a more equitable and inclusive community. We also recognize that persistent problems continue to exist within our structures, which have been shaped by historic inequities and active harm to marginalized communities, including the erroneous conflation of genetics and race in our own discipline. More and better work needs to be done and this work will benefit from greater attention of faculty and staff in addition to the ongoing work of our students.
Recognizing racism and privilege within the life sciences and at Brandeis is not enough. We need to take concrete steps to achieve racial justice and therefore, as a department, commit to, and hold ourselves accountable, for the following actions. We will:
- Act upon our recognition that we can do much more to educate ourselves by participating in workshops, talks and trainings on anti-racism practices, implicit bias and culturally-aware mentoring
- Create opportunities to listen to a diverse set of voices to address the effects of inequitable power structures on impacted individuals and communities, take those concerns seriously and act on them
- Commit to proactively supporting BIPOC, first generation, and students/postdocs from marginalized communities to foster a sense of belonging at Brandeis and in the sciences and ensure equity in access to opportunities
- Communicate more effectively, especially to undergraduates, graduate students and postdocs, about how to engage in and benefit from programming that addresses representation, bias, and equity in the sciences
- Assess our curriculum to determine how we can increase equity in learning, teach about inequities in science and healthcare, and highlight perspectives and contributions of scientists from underrepresented communities in our classrooms
- Intentionally invite Black scientists to present their work
- Expand our interactions with HBCUs and other institutions with high enrollments of Black trainees to support scientific development and success in the transition to science careers, and to educate ourselves about HBCU students’ perspectives and experiences
- Work to increase the diversity of our faculty through greater outreach in building applicant pools, training of search committees and pursuing Target of Opportunity hires
To ensure our accountability for these actions and our values, the Department will develop, by the end of February 2021, a detailed DEI plan with actionable goals, and a Diversity Actions web page reporting on actions taken. This will be posted on the Brandeis Biology website, and will include a designated “contact person” for community comments and concerns.
The Brandeis University Department of Chemistry stands firmly against the murder and brutalization of people because of the color of their skin. We express great sorrow and outrage at the senseless killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Daniel Prude, and so many others over the long history of racism in our country. We are actively working to make our department more inclusive and anti-racist. Black Lives Matter!
We acknowledge that our discipline has, like the rest of our society, contributed to a racial climate that is hostile and intimidating to many of our fellow citizens. This toxic environment greatly reduces the retention of BIPOCs in STEM. The responsibility falls on us as mentors to recognize the hostile racial climate that permeates all levels of academia, to educate our students about the prevalence of systemic racism, and to drive the initiative to alleviate it. We commit ourselves to increase our efforts to fight racism and to work toward creating a more equitable and inclusive environment within the Department, the University, and society at large.
Toward these ends, the Department of Chemistry has established a Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion comprised of faculty, staff, undergraduates, and graduate students. We are working together to implement concrete goals and actions that address systemic racism and bias, both conscious and unconscious, and to make our Department a safe and welcoming environment for all members of our community.
A Note from the Department of Community Service:
As leaders, change agents, and advocates in our communities, we are called to take collective action against injustice and racism on a local, national, and global scale. As you engage in service and community work, we invite you to be active in your communities, find moments to reflect on your identities and the roles we each play in perpetuating injustice, educate yourself and others on systems of inequality and the educational resources and platforms available to influence change, center and uplift marginalized voices by listening to and believing their stories, and unite on our shared values and visions of justice. This is the essence of what community engagement is all about. Our staff commits to continuing this important work through practicing and promoting cultural humility, self and community care, education, and direct action in our space and work. We are not immune to these systems and have important work to do on our campus and in our communities. We are here to support you in your journeys as active, lifelong community engaged leaders and advocates for social justice. We cannot do this work alone, and invite our community to join us and use this as a necessary opportunity for collective growth at Brandeis University.
These three sentences express the racism that has contaminated our society since our founding, forcing every black person to embark on a hideous journey of fear for themselves and their loved-ones. And now we have a president eager to have our military violate the constitution by unleashing its force against the peaceful protests on American soil. The societies whose languages and cultures we teach in the Department of German, Russian and Asian Languages and Literature have all endured horrors of racism and slavery historically. Our students frequently study the artistic and literary representations of those dreadful experiences. How do they connect to the experience for black people in the United States? The members of GRALL commit to raising these issues in our classrooms. Today thousands of people on our streets are directly documenting our own society’s horrors by recording videos on their phones. Our congressionally unchecked President, a “low-rent Lear raging on his Twitter heath” (in the words of one of the few conservative voices to speak out) is increasingly seen to be a malicious, insecure, cruel, wannabe emperor with no clothes—a heartless, ridiculous buffoon; the suffering of millions of black people and people of color in our country and at its borders is at the center of our minds, our discourse, our experience, our personal lives.
The Brandeis Department of Theater Arts stands with all those seeking justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, David McAtee and the innumerable others murdered and targeted by means of state-sanctioned racist violence. Black Lives Matter.
We join with other theater artists and educators in calling for accountability in our profession and will work to create a space of welcoming inclusion for those we have the great privilege of educating.
We are committing ourselves as a department to deepening our efforts to fight racism and to engaging in conversations with colleagues and students that are open, honest and challenging as we work toward more just and equitable practices.
We are including a portion of our department’s value statement below. We, as a department, reaffirm these values and commit to action in our classrooms and on our stages. Read our full value statement.
As a department, we will create actionable steps over the coming weeks. As those develop, we will be updating our community and seeking feedback. We must work toward this goal together and welcome you to join this effort.
Charles McClendon (Head, Division of Creative Arts)
Mark Berger (Chair, Department of Music)
Tory Fair (Director of Studio Art, Department of Fine Arts)
Peter Kalb (Chair, Department of Fine Arts)
Alice Kelikian (Chair, Film, Television, and Interactive Media)
Thomas King (Co-chair, Creativity, The Arts, and Social Transformation)
Ingrid Schorr (Director of Arts Engagement)
Toni Shapiro-Phim (Co-Chair, Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation)
Dmitry Troyanovsky (Chair, Department of Theater Arts)
I am writing to you in response to events that have taken place across the United States in recent weeks. As protests occur around the world, we recognize that the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many other black individuals, are only the most recent examples in a long history of racism in our country. We are not a civilized society when members are harassed, and killed, because of their race. Their deaths offer a stark reminder that structural racism persists today.
All individuals have a right to live in a world where they do not fear for their safety because of their skin color. Together, we at the International Business School commit to supporting the members of our community who experience racism on a daily basis and serve as their allies in a shared pursuit of justice. Our school’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee is actively engaging with students, faculty and staff in an effort to foster these important conversations.
Brandeis University strives to be a safe, nurturing environment where intellectual growth is celebrated. We understand that the history of racism in this country is painful and perplexing, and that many of the images of violence against black people in the news in recent weeks can be difficult to process. As your dean, I will continuously work to maintain the strong sense of community that makes the International Business School so special. I encourage you to contact us with any questions.
Dear Colleagues and Students,
I am writing to share my profound sadness in response to the events that are taking place across the nation. We are not a civilized society when members are harassed, and killed, because of their race. As we express outrage at the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many other black individuals, we must acknowledge that these tragic events are only the most recent examples in a long history of systemic racism in this country. All individuals have a right to live in a world where they do not fear for their safety because of their skin color. Together, we must commit to supporting the members of our community who experience this structural racism on a daily basis and serve as their allies in a shared pursuit of justice.
I would like to highlight three upcoming virtual events:
The Heller community will host the Sankofa Community Conference: Co-Constructing Racial Justice through Life and Work on Tuesday, June 2, and Wednesday, June 3, at 12:30 p.m. each day.
Dr. Mark Brimhall-Vargas, chief diversity officer at Brandeis University, will co-host a Zoom gathering called, “Coming Together to Face Systemic Racism,” on Tuesday, June 2, at 5 p.m. You can register here.
The International Business School’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, co-chaired by Meredith Robitaille, Tere Rodríguez and Anna Shur-Wilson, will host a virtual meeting on Thursday, June 3, at 11 a.m. This meeting will be an opportunity for our community to come together and discuss both current events and the important issues surrounding racial justice. An invitation will be sent to you tomorrow.
As President Ron Liebowitz wrote in his message today, the injustice of violence against black people must stop. Thank you for your continued commitment to justice, equity and inclusion.
Our tradition teaches us that we may not “stand idly by the blood of our neighbors.” Now is the moment for action; standing idly by will not suffice.
We cannot see the murder of George Floyd and stand indifferent to his cries, nor to that of so many Black Americans and people of color. For too long, we have seen the destructive consequences of racism - on college campuses, in our cities, and in our own communities. As a people that has known and fought oppression for generations, we have an obligation to speak out and take action whenever people are being targeted for who they are or what they believe. We speak out today because Black Americans continue to endure systemic racism and police brutality in our world and because we believe Black lives matter.
Hillel International, our students and our communities stand as allies with the Black community and all who are fighting racism and bigotry in our world today. We walk with the thousands of Black Jewish students and students of color whose lives are made more difficult by intolerance and prejudice.
Hillel has long been working on these issues, but we still have much to learn and more to do. We are building community through relationships with Black student organizations on campus, facilitating conversations through our national Black-Jewish student summits and lifting up the voices of Black Jews within our communities. In the coming weeks, we will continue to listen to our colleagues and friends in the Black community and offer further concrete ways for our students to stand against racism, including professional training, educational resources for students, and programming through our Hillel@Home platform.
During this difficult time, though the doors of many of our campus Hillels are closed, the hearts of our students, professionals and community members are open and ready to act. We encourage Jewish students and community members across the country and around the world to be true allies to the Black community in this difficult moment - to grieve and pray together, to advocate, and to find new, peaceful and powerful ways to make our voices heard and our impact felt.
Dear Heller Students,
I write to you in deep mourning and frustration about the mistreatment of Black people that has plagued this country since its founding. As we grieve the tragic murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, Nina Pop, and countless others, our lamentation and our outrage are being heard across the nation. However, grief and outrage are not enough; we need action that will eradicate anti-black racism through prudent legislation and concrete policy change. We need justice. Thus, we need a justice system that affords dignity and protection to all. I know we, as alumni of the Heller School, all share this commitment to justice and equity.
Most importantly, on behalf of Heller's Alumni Association, I write today to let Black students know that we see you. We mourn with you. We stand next to you. We follow your lead.
And for those of us who are non-Black, we should feel anguish and indignation. Problems in policing, from militarization to lack of real transparency and real accountability, affect everyone. And we must ensure that we do not add more labor to the burdens of Black people by asking them to help us navigate these violent waters. Black folx bear the brunt of having to teach and explain, and thereby relive, their traumas. Providing this education is not their responsibility. We must listen and learn on our own how to be a better ally, how to stand up for what is right, and how to help make systematic change. We can do this.
Injustice for one is an injustice for all.
Nicole Rodriguez, MPP
President, Heller Alumni Association
I echo and affirm Ron’s message and Mark’s earlier email condemning the murder of George Floyd as one more instance in the long history of injustice and systemic racism, including police brutality, against Black people and other minoritized groups.
I feel privileged to be part of the Brandeis community, with a long (if imperfect) history of advancing scholarly and political work on injustice, racial oppression, silenced histories, economic dispossession, and cultural and social accomplishments among and by people of color, as evident in last year’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Department of African and African-American Studies and the recent approval of a new minor in Asian American and Pacific Islander Studies.
Many of our Brandeis colleagues have been at the forefront of challenging and educating the academy – and wider world – to understand and to do better. To name just a few: Chad Williams, co-author of the Charleston Syllabus, a series of readings about the history of racial violence in our country; Dorothy Kim, leading a critical rethinking of the history of white supremacy in medieval studies; and Derron Wallace, who studies how inequalities of race and class shape educational success and outcomes in the US and UK.
I look forward to seeing, listening to, and learning from many of you tomorrow at 5pm, during the live, interactive Zoom gathering called “Coming Together to Face Systemic Racism” hosted by Mark Brimhall-Vargas (For security, you will need to register for this gathering with your Brandeis email address).
And I look even more forward to hopefully seeing you on campus, where we can continue our collective work in advancing Brandeis' commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion inside and outside the classroom.
Yours in solidarity,
We, the members of the Brandeis Japanese Student Association, are in support of our black
peers and Black Lives Matter. We will not promote or look away from injustice, and we seek
justice for the individuals killed unjustly. JSA will continue to provide a safe space and community for every member of Brandeis. We want every voice to be heard, and our members will also continue to discuss and focus on what we can do as a student organization.
Due to COVID-19, our future plans are indefinite. However, if we were able to take more actions
such as possible donations or fundraisers, we would like to consider them as our next steps and
will let our community know of our next actions.
We stand together.
We as the executive board would like to officially release a statement of solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement.
As we all know, the US is currently under great unrest following the wrongful deaths of so many Black lives caused by police brutality and the deep-seeded racism in this country, as well as the daily injustices that Black individuals have to face daily just for the color of their skin. Therefore, we, as a part of the Asian-American community, would like to raise our support for our fellow minority members and let them know that we see them, we hear them, we mourn with them, and we stand with them.
We urge our community to not be complacent, but to be active in fighting this injustice. Please read, listen to, and learn about the issues regarding this oppression. Instigate discussions with your family and friends and challenge one another, despite the discomfort that it may bring. Sign petitions and remember the names of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and so many other lost souls. If able, donate to organizations that are directly bringing about systemic change and support for Black communities everywhere. You can find more specific information on how you can help through the links below:
Justice and equality will not be achieved if we stay silent. Let us raise our voice and do what we can to support.
- The Executive Board of the Brandeis Korean Students Association
In light of the current protests taking place across the United States as a response to yet another violent taking of an innocent Black life by a police officer, we have taken the time to reflect and move forward by taking action. We are choosing to stand in solidarity with the Black community that is currently risking their lives to advocate for justice for the Black lives that have been lost to white violence and aggression via policing institutions. As an executive board made up of predominantly non-Black LatinXs, we recognize our privilege and audience. We hope to continue to advocate for and support the Black and Afro-LatinX communities in any way we can. As a first step, we have spent the last few days creating a resource zine with information about what actions one can take individually, how to combat anti-Blackness in themselves or their communities, ways to be an active ally, and learning resources for expanding their knowledge on the systems of oppression that target Black communities. This zine is accessible as a photo album titled "Non-Black LatinXs for Black Lives". We encourage you all to take the time to inform yourself on the current situation, as well as the historical context of the systemic policing, violence, and oppression of Black communities, and stand in solidarity with the Black community in this time of grief, action, and change. We would also like to encourage other predominantly non-Black student organizations to take action and show support by informing themselves, their own general body members, and providing direct support via donations.
Provost's Office > Addresses and Letters to the Community
“America’s Racial Reckoning” faculty panel conversation
June 8, 2020
Dear Brandeis Community,
As the violent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many others have shown us yet again, entrenched systemic racism threatens the very lives of Black people in the United States. United by both our commitment to the pursuit of knowledge and as a community that considers social justice central to our mission, I urge us all to take time to examine this issue in the larger society and at Brandeis itself.
To this end, this Friday, June 12, at noon, I invite you to a virtual panel, “America’s Racial Reckoning: Black Lives and Black Futures in Historical, Political and Legal Context,” moderated by Chad Williams who is the Samuel J. and Augusta Spector Chair in History and the Chair of the African and African American Studies department. This panel will bring together University Professor Anita Hill, Daniel Kryder who is the Louis Stulberg Chair in Law and Politics, and Leah Wright Rigueur who is the Harry Truman Associate Professor of History, for an in-depth discussion from multiple scholarly perspectives of this moment, its historical precedents, and possible outcomes.
You will find more details about this event and how to participate by clicking on the following link: www.brandeis.edu/streaming. Members of the Brandeis community are invited to submit questions for the panelists in advance through this Google Form.
This discussion is sponsored by the Department of African and African American Studies; Department of Politics; Department of History; Heller School for Social Policy and Management; Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Office of the President; and the Office of the Provost.
I hope you’ll join me for what is sure to be an important Brandeis discussion and opportunity for learning.
Lisa M. Lynch
To the Brandeis community:
Black lives matter. The Brandeis Arts Engagement staff stands together with the Black community at Brandeis in this time of societal crisis and change.
Making art is bearing witness. We will continue to develop initiatives that harness the arts to the creation of empathy, understanding, and reparation. These initiatives will include mini grants reserved for projects that focus on BIPOC issues or talents. For more information, please contact Ingrid Schorr, firstname.lastname@example.org.
We acknowledge our historical participation in systems of privilege and oppression and our shortcomings as individuals and pledge to do more, together.
We will listen to you. We will connect you with each other. We value you, and we need you.
With respect and appreciation,
Brandeis Arts Engagement Staff
Sam Forman ’21, Program Assistant
Ingrid Pabon, Program Coordinator
Ingrid Schorr, Director
Dear PARC community,
The Black community is giving us a major gift right now. They are gifting us a vision for a world in which oppression can no longer thrive.
As advocates and educators, we must examine how our systems have upheld beliefs, practices, and policies that have caused harm. At PARC, we are not immune. We are currently in the process of looking at how we can grow, change, and address anti-blackness in our PARC community. We welcome your call-ins; however, we also recognize that our growth should not be dependent on the labor of Black people. It is ours to hold. Later this summer, we will provide specific ways in which PARC will address anti-blackness and racism in our space and our work.
As we continue this journey, we ask our community to consider becoming accomplices alongside us to confront all forms of violence. For far too long we have been allies, but allyship is no longer serving us. We must shift from being allies to being accomplices. We cannot do this alone and invite our community to join us and use this as a necessary opportunity for collective growth at Brandeis University.
The PARC team
We at the Rose Art Museum believe in taking a firm stand for equity and justice. To be silent is to be complicit in a system of institutionalized racism that endangers Black lives daily. We condemn police brutality, racist violence, and discrimination. Social justice has always been at the core of the Rose’s mission. We are committed to continuing to do more, together.
Black Lives Matter.
Museums are not neutral. At the Rose, we are acutely aware that we are part of systems and communities that continue to be shaped by structures of racism and inequity. During this moment of heightened conversation about racial justice, there are many questions with which museums must grapple. The Rose is no exception. We ask ourselves, how can we make sure that all of our visitors feel seen, heard, and represented within our institutions, no matter who they are? How can we significantly support emerging Black scholars, curators, and artists? How can we amplify the voices and artworks of Black artists without relying on them to make political statements on our behalf? Questions like these reveal wrongs that require deep, intentional work to right. We hope to provide both answers and lasting change, in ways that begin to tackle systemic issues of white supremacy, oppression, and racism that are embedded within the art world's foundation.
We do not have all the answers yet, but we have begun to work towards them. In the meantime, we will continue to welcome and engage in difficult conversations; to champion Black artists, academics, scholars, and curators; to invest in resources to realize the goal of being a museum with truly inclusive collecting, exhibiting, hiring, and programming practices; to work on diversifying our staff, board, and visitor base; and to listen, self-educate, and discuss how we can be actively anti-racist, beyond the current news cycle.
This is not a time to be self-congratulatory, or to promise superficial solidarity, but to look inward, acknowledge our own complicity, and in turn move towards affecting real change. We at the Rose Art Museum are ready to do this work. As Brandeis alumna and activist Angela Y. Davis explains: "In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist."
We hope you are all doing well during this difficult time. On May 25th, George Floyd was killed by a police officer within eight minutes and 46 seconds. This horrific event has revealed the persistent truth behind police brutality against Black people and the injustices that exist in our nation. As a community, we are in solidarity with the Black community in their protests for justice of Black lives lost due to police violence. We encourage you to take time to learn more about this current situation and how systemic policing, institutional racism, and oppression of Black communities has led to these violently egregious outcomes. As our nation grieves, we hope to come together and stride towards justice and reform so that these racial injustices come to an end. Shira Chadasha at Brandeis strives to create a space welcoming of individuals of all backgrounds; we are stronger because of our diversity. These incidents have highlighted the importance for Shira Chadasha to work even harder to make sure each Brandeisian feels welcome in our community.
Ways to help include making donations, signing petitions, and reaching out to individuals in the Black community. Additionally, the Student Union has created a document for resources that are accessible to students: As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said: "Morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible." If you need support, please reach out to Hillel, Brandeis Counseling Center, Health and Wellness Promotion, or the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Let us come together and support each other,
Shira Chadasha at Brandeis
George Floyd’s murder is a moment that encapsulates 401 years of systemic racism and oppression. The start of 2020 until now has given light to an inequitable healthcare system and economy as we continue to watch an epidemic within a pandemic ravishing black communities. Now, with the repeated killings of innocent people within the black community, from Breonna Taylor to Ahmaud Arbery, we can witness what is years upon years of perpetual discrimination within systems of our own government, systems we have been led to trust. Because of this, it is SASA’s firm belief that we as a community, both within Brandeis and beyond, must stand in solidarity with the Black community.
Standing in solidarity is somewhat vague terminology. What does it mean to stand by and support the Black community during this time? Although we too are People of Color, it is important for us to understand the different forms of privilege we as a community possess, and the ways in which our mannerisms, words, actions and beliefs can all contribute to racism, both implicit and explicit. We must realize that a large part of why we are able to live in the United States today is because of the efforts of the black community to fight for people of color to live with freedom and without oppression. To Brandeis SASA, we believe true solidarity consists of taking steps to be aware and to address the ways in which we perpetuate anti-Black rhetoric and racism in our communities.
The first location of learned behavior is often our homes. Much of our own experience with anti-Black rhetoric usually occurs in the comfort of our houses and with our families. Common slurs, charged language, and blanket statements towards the Black community within our homes all contribute to racism and the oppression of black people, and realizing this is the first step towards forcing change in our community from within. Challenging our elderly family members’ beliefs, changing our own forms of thinking which have been ingrained in us since our childhood, and having difficult conversations about acts of subtle racism as a family allows us as a community to be accountable for our own racism.
Further, it is important for us to be cognizant of the ways in which we implicitly oppress the Black community along with other POC by embracing the model minority myth. By allowing ourselves to believe and embellish this societal construct as a ‘perfect minority,’ we inherently delegitimize the struggles and oppression other groups face.
Lastly, we should address the ways in which we embrace and appropriate Black culture for our own advantages, such as the casual use of the n-word within our community. Recognizing that these acts of casual racism are no less insidious simply because we are also people of color is the first step to becoming aware of ways in which we perpetuate racism and glorify Black culture for our own self-gain.
We understand that the challenge of confronting racism within our community can appear to be a daunting task, but it is vital that we do so. Until this nation confronts racism and addresses the root causes of the problem versus solely treating the superficial wound, we will continue to watch the blood of Black people be spilled in vain. The Brandeis South Asian Students Association is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion and to being on the side of justice.
SASA encourages you to continue to educate yourselves and advocate for Black lives and other POC in the future. Standing in solidarity goes beyond performative activism; it involves a systematic change from within our community and a desire to engage in dialogue in the future about these issues. At Brandeis specifically, the Heller School is hosting a conference, “Co-Constructing Racial Justice through Life and Work” on June 2 and June 3 at 12:30 p.m. each day. Mark Brimhall-Vargas will also host “Coming Together to Face Systemic Racism” on June 2 at 5 p.m. We highly encourage our general body to register and attend, as we firmly believe that a large part of being an ally to the Black community involves engaging in these difficult discussions with other communities.
Please know that we are here for you during this time and with anything you may need from us. Stay safe and healthy, and please continue the fight for equality and justice. #BlackLivesMatter
Brandeis South Asian Students Association
Dear friends, family, and peers of Brandeis’ Southeast Asia Club,
We, the members of SEAC, unequivocally stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, and the call to action following the disproportionate death, violence, and discrimination of our black and indigenous peers. The start of 2020 shed light on the systemic oppression and inequitable health care system and economy that historically underrepresented communities suffer through, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, George Floyd’s, Breonna Taylor’s, Ahamud Arbery’s, and countless other black individuals, who have been murdered in the hands of a failing government and a corrupt police system, encapsulates the perpetuating ostracization and racism black communities have faced since even before this country was founded.
We would like to express our support for and solidarity with the Black community. George Floyd, Amber Isaac, Ahmaud Arbery, Regis Korchinski- Paquet, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, Valentina Blackhorse, Lorena Borjas, Yassin Mohamed, Nikita Price, Stacey Milbern Park, Andrea Circle Bear, Tony McDade, Monika Diamond, Tony Green, Nina Pop, Emmett Till, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner are the names of only a few innocent people whose lives were taken away by oppressive, systemic racism in America. Thus we are here to support our black counterparts, family and friends, acknowledging that our libeartions as Asian Americans is interconnected, and that no lives matter until black lives matter.
We must also acknowledge that as Asian Americans, our place in the United States is owed to the efforts of the black community and their fight for freedom and inclusivity for people of color. The Civil Rights movement and countless other landmark changes pioneered by the black community have directly allowed for the presence of Asian Americans in the United States. Thus, it is our duty to recognize this historical amity and to use our own privilege that has risen as a result, to support our black siblings. With regards to the George Floyd case, in addition to Derek Chauvin and the other policemen involved, we condemn the repulsive behavior demonstrated by Tou Thao, an Asian American, and believe that he, and the other policemen present, should be convicted for his complicity. We must not become bystanders during this pivotal movement in history. We must not become complicit and look away as innocent lives are taken. Thus, it is important to demand Southeast Asians, as well as the Asian American community in general, to work to use our privilege of proximity to whiteness to uplift black voices.
As members of the larger Asian community, we are responsible in combating anti-blackness and colorism that has been instilled into our societies, whether it presents itself overtly in harmful rhetoric or more subtly in beauty standards that favor fair skin. We encourage you to engage in critical conversations with members of your family, your neighbors, peers, and local community both here and back home in order to begin the process of introspection as identifying internalized racism is the first step in our journey to unlearn and free our minds from the fear of blackness within ourselves that often times seep into communities beyond our own and cause harm. Included below our statement are resources to help navigate these issues amongst your peers and family.
If you are protesting, stay safe. Remember that we are still in a pandemic, and there are still measures to be taken to remain healthy during these times. Still take the time to wash and sanitize your hands, cover your body and face. There are myriad resources that provide information for how to attend a protest safely. Milk and water are important items to have around in case of tear gas and pepper spray attacks. In the event that you are arrested, have the phone number of a local law organization semi-permanently affixed to your person (numbers provided below). These organizations can help you in getting out of jail and work on your case. Some phone numbers and their local areas will be listed below. These phone numbers are CRUCIAL for you to have on you in case you get arrested and NEED a pro bono lawyer that will support you and take on your case.
We urge everyone to educate themselves, challenge themselves, and actively fight against injustice. Sign petitions, donate money, and use your influence to amplify the voices of the black community.
To the Brandeis Community and all of our followers,
Since the heinous murder of George Floyd, individuals from all over the world have filled the streets to protest the abuse of power within our police force, exposing the systemic racism present in the United States. We as an organization would like to stand in solidarity with those fighting this battle against injustice.
We acknowledge that WBRS has been, and still is, not as racially diverse as we ought to be. We intend to fully live up to our slogan “Something for Everyone” in these semesters going forward by making our space more representative of the student body and the greater citizenship of this country. Our board has compiled some ideas for how to better promote inclusivity (which is outlined in our caption), but feedback for how you believe we could improve our organization with respect to equity and inclusion is also immensely valued — attached is a form so that you can voice any concerns, questions, or ideas. We understand that simply voicing condemnation for the injustices present in the United States is not enough. We have also included resources that are vital in advancing the fight against racism, including nonprofits that need your donations and petitions that need your signatures.
We are here to listen, to learn, and to grow. We stand with you.
Black Lives Matter.
After watching everything that has been going on in the world, and taking time to reflect on what we can do to help instigate lasting change in the world, our Executive Board has come up with a list of steps we can take going forward:
-Committing to booking more BIPOC artists for future events
-Releasing playlists that focus on black artists (both up-and-coming and prominent) in various genres. Find our first playlist on our Spotify.
-Providing a list of black artists on Bandcamp.
-Providing resources (where to donate, educational resources, petitions, and black owned businesses to shop at) to help fight racism.
-And lastly, a feedback form for how WBRS can be more inclusive going forward.
David Weil, Dean of the Heller School & Maria Madison, Associate Dean for Inclusion, Equity and Diversity
Dear Heller Community,
The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution each contain a due process clause. Due process deals with the administration of justice and thus the due process clause acts as a safeguard from arbitrary denial of life, liberty, or property by the government outside the sanction of law.
The deaths of Ahmaud Arbery jogging, Breonna Taylor sleeping, and George Floyd not resisting arrest, punch us in the gut; take our breath away at a time when we must speak out. Their deaths should remind us of #sayhername and the numerous individuals dying from a history of brutality. This should remind us of the brutality meted out on black and brown populations who were murdered for trying to vote (as in Ocoee, Florida), building wealth (as in Tulsa, Oklahoma), or tortured and killed on a claim of whistling (Emmett Till). Most recently, a black man bird watching in Central Park was considered worth a call to the police, and a black physician was handcuffed while assisting the homeless in Miami. Blacks are targets of hate crimes in America more than any other group (SPLC/FBI statistics).
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us that "Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere." The current moment demands a racial reckoning in America, with truth telling, soul searching, legal and societal transformation, with the return of dignity and respect for every individual. This goes beyond safeguarding and requires valuing each life equitably.
We will be inviting you to an option of two processing sessions next Tuesday. First, the Heller community will host the Sankofa Community Conference:Co-Constructing Racial Justice through Life and Work on Tuesday, June 2 and Wednesday, June 3 at 12:30 p.m. each day. Second, Mark Brimhall-Vargas will co-host a Zoom gathering called “Coming Together to Face Systemic Racism” on Tuesday, June 2 at 5 p.m. You can register here.
Maria Madison and David Weil
The horrible and painful publicized injustices that have occurred in the past several weeks have brought world wide attention to the system of white supremacy in this country that has and continues to oppress Black folks in America. We are tired and broken, but our work has hardly begun. Now is the time to act, donate, protest, support Black businesses, research, watch videos, and educate. This is a COLLECTIVE effort and it will require the help and support of everyone. Here we have gathered a sort of list of lists that contains links, resources, documentaries, social media accounts to follow, etc. for all to use. We want to emphasize that this list is by no means exhaustive and we will continue to update as we receive new information.
-- Another note from the WOCA E-Board, we understand the importance of naming and we want to specifically acknowledge the Black members of our club, E-board and community. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you are in need of support. We love you and we will continue to fight.
A Message from the WSRC Board, Staff, Director and the Director-Designate
As the country and the world condemn the brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others, we feel pain and outrage… and we are reminded of our responsibilities. The intertwined pandemics of anti-black violence and COVID-19 call us to listen to the voices of black people, to honor the experiences of communities of color, and to summon the moral courage to act on what we hear and learn.
We are heartened by the vast uprising of people in communities across the U.S., and indeed the world, to protest, organize, and demand an end to police violence. While we share the determination and hope that change is within reach, we know that abiding justice can only be won through continuing, persistent action.
The educators, researchers, artists, staff, and board of the WSRC embrace the Brandeis entire community’s commitment to social justice. As the current and future leaders of the WSRC, we accept the challenge of learning and doing more to address the deep racial inequities laid bare in this moment. We renew our commitment – as expressed in our current focus on voting rights and citizenship – to shed light on people’s ongoing struggles for enfranchisement and power.
Finally, we invite inquiry and ideas from Brandeis and from the wider community on how to further our efforts on racial justice. We welcome your wisdom and insight. As we have always done, we will continue to share resources for learning and mobilization, such as this webinar on Friday, June 12 at noon, “America’s Racial Reckoning: Black Lives and Black Futures in Historical, Political and Legal Context,” a panel with Brandeis faculty Chad Williams, Anita Hill, Daniel Kryder, and Leah Wright Rigueur.
With gratitude and determination,
Karen V. Hansen Harleen Singh
Director, WSRC Director-Designate, WSRC
WSRC National Board of Advisors
Cynthia L. Berenson
Annette Liberman Miller
Barbara Z. Sander
Rosalie Shane, Co-Chair