The German Association for American Studies (GAAS) stands with those protesting against the long history and systemic presence of racist violence in the United States and other countries. We consider it a basic civil right and an urgent civic necessity to publicly condemn and mourn the killing of Black people at the hands of the police. Protests against such and similar forms of violence are the political and cultural backbone of any democracy that is worth its name. We express our solidarity with all victims of racist aggression in the US and elsewhere, including Germany; we support the demands of #BlackLivesMatter; and we urge governments to respond to the current worldwide protests by taking strong measures against racism in the name of democratic civil society. As an academic organization, we will, in our research, teaching, and institutional interactions, continue to oppose racism and we are committed to critically confront – and implement measures in order to address – our own organization’s involvement in maintaining these structures.
The Members of the GAAS Executive and Advisory Boards
Since its publication on June 6, 2020, the GAAS’s original “Statement on Racism” has been criticized on social media and via email. We agree with many points that were made. We regret that what we perceived as taking an unequivocal stance against racism and police violence was communicated in a form that has invited misreading and even mischaracterization. As an academic organization, the GAAS represents a multiplicity of voices: over 1,000 members who express themselves in a diversity of linguistic registers and styles. But we are all united in our opposition and resistance to systemic racism and police violence. We, the members of the executive and advisory boards, see it as our duty to represent our membership, and we take calls for institutional self-reflection seriously. We thus invite all members to participate in the coming debates about our organization’s structure and its role in the current period of democratic crisis.
So far, our membership has produced three statements of principle, which we display on this website. The original statement on the homepage has been amended to clarify its position. Recent exchanges have convinced us that all three statements should appear in the same space in open dialogue with each other. We bring these statements together in order to stand up for what we believe in, but also in the hope of fostering a discussion over how organizations such as the GAAS can best participate in political debates.
The board will facilitate forums in which we can continue this debate during the following weeks and months.