Position Statement and Action Plan to Dismantle Oppressions

A living document

     Times of crisis offer opportunities to create change. The global pandemic has brought to the fore pre-existing social inequalities along economic, racial, ethnic, gender, sexual, age, abilities and other intersecting lines.  The pandemic exposed the crude mechanisms by which American-style capitalism intersecting with structural racism and sexism systematically exploits the poorest and deems marginalized communities disposable while also revealing the persistence of gender violence.   Sociologists, anthropologists and other social scientists and humanists have pointed to these critical issues for decades, if not centuries. At this moment we renew our responsibility to take action and push harder for the social changes we believe are critical to a free society.

 

     The present manifestation of unsustainable inequalities has mobilized people across the world. A broader coalition of people are voicing their demands to reform unequal systems and organizing collectively to push for action at the governmental level. In the United States, the disproportionate negative effect of the pandemic on African American and other communities of color combined with the killing of George Floyd by police brought people to the streets to say No More, joining the #BlackLivesMatter and allied movements like #SayHerName, #TransBlackLivesMatter, Color of Change and Black Alliance for Just Immigration. These groups have strengthened their many years of Anti-Racist activism denouncing injustice and police brutality against Black and Brown lives after the murders of people like Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Atatiana Jefferson, Stephon Clark, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, and unfortunately, many, many others.

 

     As faculty of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology we recognize how our own students and their families have been affected by this multifaceted crisis, and we have actively worked to assist them in navigating their situations. We are still carefully listening and ready to help, as we know this crisis and its effects are ongoing. Also, we know that many are actively involved in collective efforts to create social change for racial equality and justice. We support these efforts, and in this spirit, we have created the following statement and plan of action to address current issues and help in dismantling intersecting global oppressions. 

We believe that: 

  • Black Lives Matter

  • No matter our background, identity or position within national and international social hierarchies, we are all human and must be respected with dignity 

  • Health rights are human rights - Universal healthcare should be implemented 

  • Racism is intolerable and White Supremacy must be systematically dismantled

  • Our aspirations should not be limited to the mere absence of racism, but we must instead commit to active anti-racism

  • Anti-racism requires recognition and dismantling of white privilege along with White Supremacy, acknowledgement of racial harm, and concrete anti-racist action in personal and systemic contexts that might at times create discomfort

  • Police brutality, violence by government agents, and institutional racism against Black and Brown Lives as well as any Minoritized and Marginalized Lives must end 

  • Gender violence is not to be tolerated and proactive measures must be taken to prevent and restore gender violence survivors 

  • Bystander silence is violence and perpetuates racial, ethnic, gender, class and other systems and practices of oppression 

  • Inequality regimes and systems of power are all-encompassing and therefore, we must reflect on where we stand and how we make use of the power we have

  • Politicians and government officials must be held accountable 

  • Participants in social movements must be protected from police and state violence

  • Peaceful collective action and restorative justice are more conducive to eliminate violence and oppression 

  • Complexities are to be recognized to be able to form constructive and durable coalitions along various social constructs 

  • Essentialism should be disrupted to build bridges across groups and communities and gather strength against power elites 

  • A global and intersectional understanding of the political economy of social inequalities is crucial to foster good strategies for social change 

  • Individual and collective agency, people’s power to do otherwise is key to dismantle oppressions as our lives are not structurally predetermined but socially ordered

     As faculty, we understand that the educational system, academia, teaching and research are part and parcel of the very systems of inequality we are trying to dismantle. Therefore, we commit to reflect upon the dynamics and policies that perpetuate inequality within our own work environment and revise our curriculum, syllabi, pedagogies and research to decolonize their content.  For this, we plan to hold a series of workshops to think through these issues and renew our academic labor to ensure that we are not recreating inequalities and injustices.   In the 2020-2021 academic year, we held a series of events to collectively analyze current affairs, including workshops and guest lectures.

     Our position statement and action plan are living documents. We will revise these as time passes and events develop.  We welcome feedback and input always, and hope that the website will reflect these dynamic and collective processes in an inclusive and democratic manner.

-----

Read the following statements by professional organizations: 

International Sociological Association

American Sociological Association

Sociologists for Women in Society

Society for the Anthropology of Work

Association for Legal and Political Anthropology

National Association of Social Workers

Latin American Studies Association