Black Lives Matter: Heed Their Rising Voices

George Floyd’s death was murder. He did not have to die.

His brutal and unnecessary murder was just one of many inflicted upon African Americans that most had previously chosen to ignore, to excuse the perpetrators, or to villainize the victims.

That violence must end.

We were wrong not to issue a statement after previous instances of police brutality. In not issuing public and collective statements in response to previous violence against Black people, we recognize that our not-speaking was a form of speaking that was heard.

We acknowledge the fear, trauma and vulnerability felt by African Americans at this moment and throughout our nation's history.

George Floyd’s murder calls us to establish or renew our commitment as allies in transformation, who recognize the existence of systemic racial inequality, who are dedicated to revealing the historical roots of the systematic racial inequality of the present, and who acknowledge that troubling attitudes about policing African Americans is just one form.

As we historians recover and narrate the world’s complex links between past and present, African American humanity has to be more fully acknowledged and incorporated, not simply either as victims or heroes, but also as ordinary people seeking a just future.

We dedicate ourselves to both educate and listen as part of the work necessary to bend the moral arc of the universe towards justice.

All lives will not matter until we can say with sincerity of thought and actions that “Black Lives Matter.”

The Black Unity Center is leading the way with coordinating conversations and actions on campus. Please follow them on Instagram (blackunitysfsu) or information about the activities that they are planning.

Starting in the fall, we will begin a collective process of evaluating and decolonizing our curriculum and pedagogy, to ensure that we further narratives of power and resistance and enable universal access to learning in the classroom. We invite you to be a part of the conversation, whether in the classroom, at department events, or via E-mail (history@sfsu.edu).

If you are looking for readings to help direct your understanding, campus resources to help with specific issues, or off-campus organizations that are leading the fight, please visit our website Resources Tab and our Historiography of Racial Inequality.

 

In solidarity,

The History Department