We in the Department of American Studies at Rutgers-New Brunswick, home to the Critical Race and Ethnic Studies minor and founded amid the Civil Rights movement, mourn the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the many others killed by racist violence in the United States.

We stand in solidarity and support of the worldwide protests against police brutality and anti-Black racism. In this time of a global pandemic, in which Black Americans are dying of COVID-19 at three times the rate of white Americans, we unequivocally affirm the preciousness of Black lives and the lives of all people of color across our communities.

More so now than ever, we commit to teaching, mentoring, and scholarship that insists that “America” is not defined by those in positions of power, but by all Americans--Black, Indigenous, people of color, immigrants, refugees, regardless of citizenship status and of all religious, ethnic, and economic backgrounds.

As scholars of American history, politics, labor, literature, art, and culture, we study and teach histories of national crisis and contradiction, of triumph and tragedy, and know all too well the centrality of white supremacy and racist violence in our nation’s troubled past and present. We understand that racism is not only a knee on the neck or a bullet in one’s back, but an institution that runs throughout American life, from housing to education to income disparities to health care.

Even in our own institution, we call for the end to using racial descriptors in crime alerts that serve only to fuel racialized stereotypes about Black people and people of color being dangerous. We believe that now is the time to examine how racism is a part of our institutional practices, and to demand changes where necessary.

In this time of pain and reflection, we as scholars and educators of American Studies pledge to continue to address difficult histories of race and racism in our courses, to center and illuminate the voices of historically marginalized people and communities, and to create spaces of dialogue and discussion for our students.

We know that Black students at RU and across the country are struggling with anger, grief, anxiety, and fear. We stand with you, and offer our unwavering solidarity and support. We raise our voices with yours: #BlackLivesMatter.