College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences

Black Lives Matter

A Letter to Our Students

Dear Students,

The English & Modern Languages Department is saddened and appalled by the recent murders of black people at the hands of law enforcement. As the country mobilizes in protest, we are reminded that these are only the most recent and most visible instances of hundreds of years of structural racism. The EML department faculty would like to reassure you of our unwavering commitment to social justice and anti-racism. 

First, we believe that Black lives matter. We join the Black community in demanding justice for the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee, Ahmaud Arbery, and those whose names have not been highlighted in the national press, and offer our support to EML students during these tumultuous times. Second, we offer our commitment to support, protect, respect, and care for Black students by continuing to develop and further implement a curriculum that questions, challenges, and deconstructs the violent history of anti-blackness in this country. We understand our role in developing a critical awareness of oppression demands that we both provide our students with the analytical tools to build an anti-racist future and hold ourselves and each other accountable for the conditions of the world.

We also recognize the severity of racism as an ongoing crisis in the midst of other global health and environmental crises. COVID-19 has disproportionately stricken Black communities across the US, making visible how years of social inequalities and environmental destruction deeply impact the health and economic well-being of black people. We re-commit ourselves to helping you become aware of the ways in which these intersectional forms of oppression are underlying causes of the unrest we see today, and to openly addressing this as part of our teaching, curriculum, and departmental practices. If we are to collectively work towards a better future, we must have honest conversations on how the cruelty of inequality begets disaster.

We understand our responsibility to students. So in addition to addressing a more equitable classroom learning experience, the department offers these strategies of support to the wider University community:

  • Affirm our commitment to the hiring of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) at the faculty and staff level
  • Regularly invite local BIPOC speakers to campus events
  • Support campus-wide events and programs focused on increasing BIPOC visibility 
  • Work with campus centers like the African-American Student Center to raise awareness on student issues

These commitments require hard work and critical self-reflection. College is a space where we learn, fail, and grow. And we are all lifelong learners, striving to be better humans and to create a better world than the one we were given.

In Solidarity,
The English & Modern Languages Department

Resources to help you cope with these difficult, but important, times: