In these unprecedented times, we are writing to you as a department to express our collective outrage at the devastating murder of George Floyd in the city of Minneapolis, and underline our support for the Black Lives Movement-led protests against police violence and anti-Black racism in the United States and in Canada. Importantly, in this moment, we also want to remember and condemn the killings of Black people across Canada by the police like D'Andre Campbell, Machuar Madut, Nicholas Gibbs, Abdirahman Abdi and many others.
In doing so, we want to express our solidarity with our Black students and Black colleagues in our university community. We are acknowledging that systemic racism and white supremacy is not only an American problem, but something affecting the entire world---particularly settler states like Canada, where racial dispossession, slavery, violence and discrimination have played a constitutive political and historical role. Indeed, as we watch the protests unfold across cities in the US, we are reminded that these racist policies and practices have left devastating consequences in Indigenous nations and among other racialized groups in Canada proper. In addition to racial profiling, several studies have shown the over-representation of Black and Indigenous people in Canadian prisons. These facts suggest that there are systemic forms of discrimination at play in the criminal justice system and policing in this country, which must be eradicated and transformed. We also want to acknowledge that explicit and overt forms of anti-Black racism continue to play a role in our own midst, as testified by the recent online incident involving a uOttawa student and the ongoing scandal in the Ottawa Police Department. This new mass mobilization, which has originated in the United States where anti-Blackness has a violent history, nevertheless calls upon us as educators to further reflect on this reality of systemic racism in Canada. It also demands that our School commit to actively fighting racism through our Indigenization and Decolonization Committee, in order to make our university a safer space for Black, Indigenous, and racialized students, teachers, and workers.
Over the last weeks, we have witnessed the predominantly young groups of protestors —Black, Brown, Indigenous, and White— take to the streets to both mourn the victims and bravely oppose police violence and repression against Black lives. As your professors, we are moved to see this new generation —a generation of our past and current students— stand up to racism and racialized violence in such large numbers. Although the journey towards a meaningful social transformation remains long and hard, we are hopeful that this is a sign of a better future to come.
Your professors from the School of Sociological and Anthropological Studies’ Assembly
June 5th, 2020