On Anti-Blackness in the United States

Natalia Brizuela and Samera Esmeir, UC Berkeley
Directors, ICCTP Projects
June 5, 2020

 

George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery—all were murdered by the police for being Black. Through their singular names, we also recall the names of all others who have been killed, or whose lives have been wrecked, by racist institutions. We stand in solidarity with Black communities, now and always, against all forms of racism and injustice.

Moved by past and present struggles against oppression and domination in different parts of the world, we acknowledge the rage and grief of Black communities in the United States. From the era of slavery to the present, institutional racism and anti-Blackness have been constant, albeit shifting, markers of the U.S. state and society. Black lives in the United States are not only ended with impunity, but are also disproportionately at risk of imprisonment, impoverishment, illness, and death. Racism permeates Black lives. And yet Black communities continue to persevere and struggle against attempts to devalue their lives. The racially heterogeneous protests of this past week have shown that the struggle against racism is the responsibility of all. These protests have also drawn attention to the connections between racism, governance through debt, economic inequality, food insecurity, defunded education, and crumbling health services, to mention only a few features of the current moment—all of which result in a devastating present and a future without horizons that affects people of color disproportionately. It is not a coincidence therefore that youth are markedly present at these protests and are leading some of them. 

These protests of Black, Brown, Asian, indigenous, and queer communities echo other struggles against racism and domination in the United States and elsewhere, from Latin America to the Middle East. They have encouraged a renewed understanding of the interconnectedness and the travels of strategies of domination, and in this way they have also renewed our appreciation of the necessity of coalitions and solidarity against oppression. From within a society steeped in white supremacy and privilege, protesters are dismantling existing racist power structures while making another future possible.

As scholars and teachers committed to public education, we consider it our responsibility to condemn policing practices, to amplify calls to abolish policing, and to demand that the state reprioritizes its funding by reinvesting in free education for all. These measures can only be a partial solution to systemic racism. We must also reimagine teaching and learning based on the value of heterogeneous world views, making visible the many forms of life that constitute our shared world.