The current representatives of the Postgraduate Forum (PGF) of the German Association for American Studies (GAAS) want to take this moment to address the present situation in the United States. Not only have the ongoing circumstances of the Corona crisis been fatally affecting black communities by at least three times the rate of white individuals (APM Research Lab) due to systemic disparities and racist ideologies, acts of law enforcement before and during these troubling times have also led to the violent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many other black individuals as well as the arrests, injuries, and deaths of protesters calling for the stop of this very brutality at the heart of a white supremacist system that does not value black lives.
We want to wholeheartedly denounce these anti-black sentiments and violent forms of systemic racism in the United States—and everywhere in the world. We are outraged by the ways members of the federal government, especially the current American president, are failing to recognize their responsibilities for these criminal actions and are instead assigning blame to those challenging the status quo and standing up in the name of justice. We explicitly oppose the use of military equipment to control demonstrations as well as the threat to deploy U.S. troops to “dominate” protesters. We urge the authorities to act in defense of human rights by listening and responding to collective calls for reform instead of further marginalizing and oppressing already vulnerable communities.
In this respect, we want to express our support of liberation movements such as Black Lives Matter, including the innumerable global anti-racism efforts in the streets and online in the name of #nojusticenopeace. We offer our deepest condolences to the victims and their families, whose lives we continue to hold in the highest regards.
As scholars in the multidisciplinary field of American studies, we believe it is our duty to engage in decolonizing work in our research, our classrooms, and in the conversations we have with each other and with individuals outside of academia. We want to commit to dismantling supremacist systems by following prompts to amplify BIPOC voices, to read across intersections, to diversify our syllabi, to check our privileges, to speak up against injustice where we see it, and to take care of ourselves and others who need our help in times of adversity.
We believe that statements to support black lives must be accompanied by concrete actions. We thus want to give you the opportunity to sign your names below this letter in support of the BLM movement on a larger scale and of our letter specifically. You can do so through the following link: https://pgf2019.wordpress.com/in-solidarity-with-blacklivesmatter-an-open-letter/. We believe this is a fundamental measure signaling not only our collective solidarity with the victims of racial violence, police brutality, and white supremacy but also our commitment to contributing to a safe, sensitive, and supportive PGF environment that strives to #leavenoonebehind and thus backs, especially, colleagues and friends of color. This is also the kind of environment we want to help create for the GAAS at large.
We also want to offer an interactive platform featuring a variety of ways we can support causes and initiatives surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement and beyond. We ask for your help in collecting and sharing any resources and/or to add new categories and items where you see fit. We hope to encourage your support in whichever way is possible for you in the present moment, taking into consideration that current insecurities surrounding COVID-19, racism-induced injustices, and other hardships affecting many of us in Germany as well as other parts of Europe and the world, too. You can access the list of resources here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1DZefKFGsfgo1HiJmxZh_K2PzCR1a8dnQYIw-y9sFGd8/edit?usp=sharing
Last but not least, we also also want to express our support of the initiatives taken by the Diversity Roundtable of the GAAS, whose position statement you can access here: https://dgfa.de/diversity-roundtable/.
We thank you all for your ongoing efforts as researchers, teachers, protesters, activists, and, especially, supporters of the PGF network, which will surely engender many more discussions on these topics in the years to come. Together we stand.
PGF Team Passau: Alexandra Hauke, Bettina Huber, Thomas Stelzl
PGF Team Stuttgart: Jana Keck, Whit Frazier Peterson, Melissa Schlecht
Postgraduate Representative on the advisory board of the DGfA: Judith Rauscher
June 8, 2020