The Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures unequivocally condemns the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and countless other Black victims at the hand of police and white supremacist violence. We unanimously avow that Black Lives Matter.
As members of a Germanic Languages Department, we decry police violence towards Black, Indigineous, people of color (BIPOC), and peaceful protestors. In so doing, we stand unequivocally in solidarity with protestors across the nation and call for deep structural change in the organization and functioning of the police. As scholars of cultures that have long histories of state-sponsored police brutality, including the Third Reich, East Germany, and German, Dutch, and Belgian colonial occupations, we have a specific historical responsibility to shed light on histories of white supremacy and work to dismantle their continued effects in the present, whether in Europe or the United States.
We recognize that systemic racism and oppression is not limited to the police force but pervades all aspects of our society, including health care, housing, employment, and education. But racism and oppression is also carried out through words and images, which can both inspire and demean, illuminate and distort, celebrate difference and silence minorities. As scholars in the humanities, we are committed to exploring all aspects of cultural expressions, both past and present, sublime and abhorrent. We recognize that to carry out this work, German, Dutch and Scandinavian Studies must be fundamentally reconceptualized in order to acknowledge the centrality of underrepresented communities that continue to be rendered invisible.
To this end, we wish to call attention to the long-standing work of organizations such as Adefra and Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland (ISD). We also wholeheartedly endorse recent statements from the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee of the German Studies Association and from the Coalition of Women in German. Recent contributions to the Diversity, Decolonization, and the German Curriculum blog have also provided an excellent example for how to integrate activism into academia.
We are dedicated to building on and expanding initiatives that the department has developed in recent years, in order to implement and promote anti-racist and anti-authoritarian pedagogies and scholarship. This is one step on a long journey, and we maintain an unwavering commitment to acting for positive systemic change.