Department of English

Department Initiatives in Response to Racist Killings by Police, 6/9/20

The Brandeis University English Department is enraged at the police murders of George Floyd in Minneapolis, of Breonna Taylor and David McAttee in Louisville, of Tony McDade in Tallahassee, and the many others who have been killed by police. We give our support to Black communities, Black organizations, and the Movement for Black Lives that have demanded justice and accountability in the wake of the ongoing and pervasive criminalization, hyper-incarceration, and state murder of Black men, women, and children in all 50 states and around the globe.  

These protests reflect a long history of Black struggle against the systematic structures of racism, antiblackness, and oppression that have been part of the U.S.’s settler colonial and racial capitalist projects. We are an English department in a state and community with a history and present of racism, as discussed by local journalists. Massachusetts also has the history of Crispus Attucks, a Black man who was the first casualty in the Boston Massacre of 1770, along with the Boston Tea Party, the first violent looting of the American Revolution.

We understand that in order to dismantle white supremacy we must continue to resist racism and especially antiblackness in our classroom pedagogy, training for graduate students, and our vision and goals for the department. This work must center how to make a material difference in the lives of our Black colleagues, staff, students, and community.

We commit to working on the following:

  1. Inviting speakers working on issues related to antiracism and antiblackness in literature, art, culture, politics;
  2. Committing to further decolonizing and democratizing our curriculum, especially as it relates to race in the United States, and to include Black writers on our syllabi in engaged and meaningful ways, beyond mere tokenism;
  3. Committing to support our colleagues in other departments who have been in the forefront of doing the work and having the burden of dismantling white supremacy in our institution;
  4. Including more Black scholars in our department colloquia and other parts of department life;
  5. Making the continuing case for target of opportunity hires and other hires whose work addresses issues of race and inequality.