Black Loves Matter Protest

RWS Department Statement of Support:
Black Lives Matter

In light of the recent legal ruling which attempts to justify the unjust killing of Breonna Taylor and the reports of human rights abuses against women at a Georgia ICE detention center, the faculty and staff of the Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies reaffirm our support of the Black Lives Matter movement and its efforts to end the systemic racism that has characterized our nation since its origins. 

As a Department:

  • We condemn racism and police brutality.
  • We denounce the systemic racism that shapes our educational, political, and legal institutions.
  • We stand in solidarity with Black people, and all people of color in our communities, and resolve to support positive change.
  • We affirm our desire to create a university that acknowledges the historic and systemic nature of racism and that works for racial healing and justice. 

We also mourn the countless victims of racialized violence. While we say their names: 

  • Breonna Taylor
  • George Floyd
  • Ahmaud Arbery
  • Tamir Rice
  • Michael Brown
  • Eric Garner

we acknowledge that there are many more people whose names we do not know.  

Furthermore, we stand against the mistreatment of migrants and asylum seekers, of which many remain nameless. 

As a predominately white department in a field shaped by whiteness, we acknowledge our own oversights, silences, and privileges. As such we, the faculty and staff of the Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies, commit to actively examining our own practices in these systems and working to create an equitable, inclusive pedagogy. 

Our first step to achieve this commitment is the creation of the Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion group. We—the faculty, staff and students, involved with this group—are working to:

  1. Develop and employ anti-racist practices in curriculum and pedagogy
  2. Examine existing departmental policies and practices and larger structural issues to understand and address issues of inequity and anti-blackness
  3. Create equitable and inclusionary programs and classrooms as well as their associated policies and practices.

We have also initiated a pedagogy seminar series dedicated to diversifying our teaching and putting a spotlight on marginalized rhetorical practices.    

We know these steps are modest in comparison to the larger struggle against oppression. We echo the words of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who said, “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.” We are committed to taking these first steps, but acknowledge that there is still a long journey ahead.
We, the faculty and staff of the Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies, commit to the ongoing work of identifying and correcting implicit racist processes. As educators, we restate our commitment to foster social justice, equity, and anti-racist efforts. Now, more than ever, the study of rhetoric is essential to fostering our ability to understand and participate in conversations that promote compassion, justice, and ultimately, progress.