Statement of Solidarity in Support of George Floyd
The Afro-American Studies Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is appalled, outraged and heartbroken by the brutal and senseless murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in our sister state of Minnesota. Unfortunately and sadly, we are not surprised. Mr. Floyd’s murder comes on the heels of the Louisville police shooting of Breonna Taylor as she slept; the white vigilante killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia; and the weaponizing of white privilege by the woman in New York City who falsely called 911 on Christian Cooper, an African American birder in Central Park. As scholars and teachers of African American history and experience, we understand that these are only the most recent examples of the anti-Black violence and dangerous white supremacy that have captured media attention, but that have stained this country for hundreds of years. Coming amidst the pandemic health crisis that has sickened and killed disproportionate numbers of African Americans in our community and nation and wreaked economic catastrophe on these same communities, we are especially distressed by the added pain Mr. Floyd’s killing has inflicted on Black people everywhere.
As dismayed and as enraged as we are, we also stand in solidarity and community with the family of George Floyd and all those working for racial justice. We are mindful that our department was born out of Black student protest and a national movement for African American freedom a half century ago. In that spirt, we applaud the protesters who, like generations before them, have put their bodies on the line in the demand for racial justice in every aspect of American society. We are deeply moved by them all, especially the young people who are most at risk of becoming infected by the COVID-19 virus, but who have felt the urgency of making their voices heard nonetheless. We are and have always been a multi-racial department; however, we recognize that many among us and throughout our campus and local community daily experience the pain, danger, stress and trauma of living in Black skin in America. We call on all of us together, and white allies in particular, to commit to the eradication of white supremacy, institutional racism, and anti-Black violence. There is clearly much work to be done.