Statement of Solidarity and Action

Statement of Solidarity and Action

On May 25, 2020 we witnessed the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mr. Floyd’s killing is the most recent in a long list of Black men, women, and children who have senselessly lost their lives at the hands of federal, state, and local police across the United States. These deaths are not the result of individual racist actions. Rather, they are the effects of a matrix of interlocking systems of oppression, racism, and discrimination that are deeply woven into the fabric of our country, the result of which produces racist policing practices and environments that are conducive to and permit racialized police brutality. Thoughts and prayers are not equal to the moment, the scale of the problem, or the despair felt by our Black students, faculty, and staff.

This country, your country, was founded on the contradictions of equality and the institution of slavery. Despite progress, systems of oppression continue to disadvantage Black people in income and wealth attainment, sentencing in the criminal justice system, housing and homeownership, the education system, and health outcomes, among many other domains of social life. You can’t walk, you can’t stand, you can’t jog, you can’t sleep in your own homes… without risk of being killed. Today, you march and protest against these racial injustices, a fight that generations of your families have undertaken, and you do so during a pandemic that has disproportionately sickened and killed people of color. You bravely risk the dual burden of violence and illness because, among other things, you can’t breathe.

Radford University and Radford University Carilion, Predominantly White Institutions (PWI), are not immune to these systems of oppression, racism, and discrimination. We know that, while there are safe spaces for students of color on our campuses, there are also unsafe spaces on our campuses. You deserve equitable on- and off-campus environments free from overt and covert racism, discrimination, and violence. 

We, the faculty of the Department of Sociology at Radford University and Radford University Carilion, support the Black Lives Matter movement and condemn, in the strongest possible terms, acts of police brutality. We strive to illuminate and dismantle systems of oppression, racism, and discrimination in our classrooms and on our campus. We stand in solidarity with the students, faculty, and staff of color at Radford University and Radford University Carilion. 

The Department of Sociology commits to the following actions:

  1. hosting formal and informal virtual events during the summer and into the future to support our students, faculty, and staff of color, 
  2. fostering collaboration with organizations led by students of color, and
  3. re-examining our courses, assignments, and policies to ensure that our curriculum and classrooms remain inclusive, safe spaces. 

We call upon white students, faculty, and staff to take concrete actions to combat oppression, racism, and discrimination against Black people. In the link below, we offer several actions white students, faculty, and staff can take today, and hope that you will join us in committing to a sustained focus on racial justice and fairness. Please share our statement and declare what you are going to do in your life to be anti-racist.

Here is a list of possible actions you can take today. 

  1. Get involved with work being done by local organizations such as the Calfee Training School Project or The Christiansburg Institute.
  2. Attend an event sponsored by The Center for Diversity and Inclusion at Radford University and related events at Radford University Carilion.
  3. Educate yourself about whiteness and white privilege.
  4. Take a course that centers African Americans, race, or issues of inequality. 
  5. Don’t be silent about that racist joke. Silence is support.
  6. Read Nikole Hannah-Jones’ The 1619 Project.
  7. Listen to Stamped from The Beginning - The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi. 
  8. Watch Just Mercy to learn about systemic racism in the criminal justice system.

More suggestions and resources can be found on RU’s Cultural Competency Resources list, compiled by Dr. Sharon Jones, Cultural Competency Project Manager for the University.

Jun 6, 2020
Department of Sociology