Department of English Statement on Protests

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2020

We, the Department of English, join millions of people across the United States and globally in calling for justice in the death of George Floyd alongside Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Nina Pop, Tony McDade, and the thousands of Black people before them. Our anger and sadness persist with each case of harassment, abuse, and killing of Black men and women. These events are stressful, frightening, and life-threatening for Black people.

Over the last two weeks, we have witnessed protests across the United States. Black community leaders, activists, and members protest the long-standing systemic racism that pervades our country. Peaceful protests provide a way for Black people and allies to come together to exercise a first amendment right to free speech, denounce hate, and find solidarity with each other.

Consonant with our University’s mission and Principles of Community, our Department values diversity and inclusion and has a zero tolerance for racism, bigotry, hatred, and violence, which we condemn in the strongest possible terms. 

Because we are committed to enabling students to succeed in teaching, scholarship, and writing, our responsibility for advances in knowledge does not stop at the classroom door. Now more than ever, education about antiracism, allyship, and community organizing alongside critical inquiry in the study and production of writing, literature, and rhetoric must be at the forefront of our commitment to the intellectual lives of our students to transform the world.

Thus, on the Department’s website, in the coming weeks, we will provide resources. In the spirit of education, we’ll note books and websites on antiracism and allyship to mental health contacts, food banks, legal contacts, and possibilities for civic participation. Alternatively, you may access these resources right away by requesting them from one of the members of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee: Estee Beck (, Jackie Fay (, and Erin Murrah-Mandril ( 

We also recognize many people need help, which may mean talking to someone or asking for assistance in locating resources. Even though, due to social distancing measures this summer, we cannot meet with students face-to-face, the members of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, listed above, are available to talk via email or video conferencing.

Finally, we realize public statements can only do so much. Action makes change. Therefore, in Fall 2020, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee will start conducting a series of public forums about (1) addressing antiracism in interpersonal and community relationships and in our undergraduate and graduate curricula; (2) redressing the lack of Black and non-Black people of color graduate students and faculty in the Department through recruitment and retention; and, most importantly, (3) providing the intellectual and psychological support for Black and non-Black people of color to thrive in our Department, College, and University.

To visit the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee's resources page, which includes books on anitracism and allyship, mental health contacts, as well as legal resources, click here.