On June 4, 2020 the UNC Charlotte Africana Studies Department released a statement “to call attention to the intersection of Blackness, state sanctioned violence, anti-Blackness and structural violence.”
The statement was released after the racist murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. A video of the officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck generated the most widespread simultaneous Black Lives Matter demonstrations since the movement began in 2013 following George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
“The Africana Studies Department is committed to the liberation of African descended people,” the statement says. “As scholars and community members, we commit ourselves to resisting militarized policing, the neoliberalization of public goods and services, lack of accountability from elected officials and patterns of racial inequality in all forms. We stand in solidarity with Black protestors and allies who demand substantive change, the type of change that recognizes the humanity of African descended people, and the abolition of systems of oppression.”
Higher education is often one of those systems. According to Africana Studies Chair Dr. Jordan-Zachery, universities tend to uphold racist power structures through one-sided curricula, homogenous faculty and administration and the tokenization of students and faculty of color.
Jordan-Zachery says that when it comes to perpetuating structural violence, “UNC Charlotte is unique and we’re also not. We share some commonalities. We pride ourselves on being the urban institution. So how does that look on our campus? What does it look like in terms of the bodies and the experiences? What does it look like in places such as the police and how they might engage with people of different social locations?”
She emphasized that we must ask ourselves of every policy, “How is this benefiting the community?” and foreground the concept of justice in all of our conversations.
The Africana Studies statement also announced that the department will hold monthly online forums starting June 17 at 2 p.m. for anyone who is interested. Jordan-Zachery says the goal of these discussions is two-fold: to educate and to spur action.
“We bring together our collective efforts to facilitate a dialogue on how as a community we engage in substantive actions to end racism and structural violence—violence that stretches beyond the institution of policing and what Angela Davis refers to as the Prison Industrial Complex, but that is also in our schools, our health care systems and even our institutions of higher education,” the statement reads.
The departments of Religious Studies, Anthropology and Communications also issued statements in support of racial justice. The College of Health and Human Services' Diversity, Inclusion via Equity Committee and the School of Social Work released their own statements as well, and Chancellor Dubois gave a statement on George Floyd's death.
To join the first online discussion set for tomorrow, send your name and email to africana_Studies@uncc.edu.