As African American and Africana Studies (AAAS) faculty at the University of Kentucky, we share the outrage at the current manifestations of white supremacy and paramilitarized racial violence by way of the recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, David McAtee, and former UK student Breonna Taylor. The militarized state response to the ensuing protests confirms the threat that this uprising presents to those in power as well as the potential to facilitate real change that this uprising holds. The past 4 months have laid bare the human cost of the social, economic and political racial disparities that undergird white supremacy in the United States as COVID-19 continues to ravage black communities, literally animating the phrase “I can’t breathe”. Subsequently the current uprising is not only about police brutality, but the entire system of oppression and privilege that frames life in the United States.
As such, faculty of the African American and Africana Studies Program uncategorically support and celebrate our students in and outside of AAAS who are carrying on the tradition of racial justice activism at UK through their involvement with the Movement for Black Lives (#M4BL, #BLM). We also support and affirm our students who by choice or circumstance, are not protesting in the streets yet are grieving, scared, or angered by current events.
In this time of crisis, AAAS program serves as a resource and a space for community; we stand with and for our students. As a faculty, we urge communities to harness and redirect the power of outrage to demand reflection and transformation in policing and incarceration in Lexington, in Kentucky, and in the United States. Your voice is fundamental to this change, and we urge you to join us in our global pursuit to dismantle systemic racism in American society, as we build a better “new normal.” Indeed, Black Studies at UK was born in 1969 in an era of decolonization. As AAAS renews its commitment to rigorous scholarship and community-minded teaching, we are full in the knowledge that African American communities have consistently and urgently generated the language of transformation, promoting global civil rights movements. And as AAAS faculty we will continue to raise our voices against racial injustice as it occurs at the University of Kentucky and in the state of Kentucky on behalf of students.