Institute for Ethnic Studies
Statement on UNL #BlackLivesMatter Protest
The Institute for Ethnic Studies expresses its unequivocal support for the national #BlackLivesMatter movement and stands in solidarity with all who plan to protest racial injustice on Thursday, November 19th outside the City Union at a student-organized demonstration at UNL. We denounce the racist, hate-filled language that has been directed at the protest’s organizers and supporters on social media. We call for campus-wide solidarity and support of our students as they pursue social justice at UNL.
Black lives, in all their diversity and humanity, have been central to the research, curriculum, and service of the Institute for Ethnic Studies since its founding at UNL in 1972, and remain so particularly to our African American and African Studies Program. Ethnic Studies is an interdisciplinary academic unit that offers a rich curriculum and co-curricular planning by faculty members whose work occupies the boundary where traditional disciplines intersect with issues of race, ethnicity, and social justice. Black Studies is central to our Institute’s mission.
In this national moment of tension, increasing critical awareness, and social action on racial injustice, we will not diminish the significance and power of #BlackLivesMatter with the language of “All Lives Matter,” which erases the valid, pressing, and politically crucial concerns of a people who remain besieged. In a nation where the lives of African Americans, Native Americans, and Latinos suffer the highest rates of police brutality, Judith Butler’s words ring true: the slogan “All Lives Matter” becomes a “quick universalism,” a decontextualized and abstract assertion removed from the realities of urgent social inequities. By affirming that #BlackLivesMatter, we do not claim that other lives do not matter: Native American lives, Latino lives, Asian American lives, European American lives—the lives of all people everywhere matter. The #BlackLivesMatter movement responds to a historical, social, economic, and political context that has persistently and violently disadvantaged African Americans.
In calling for solidarity, peace, and justice across all groups of people, we understand the importance of affirming and emphasizing Black Lives in particular, and we support the courageous choice of our students to protest injustice.
The Institute for Ethnic Studies
African American and African Studies Program Statement on UNL #BlackLivesMatter Protest
This letter is to express the African American and African Studies Program faculty’s support for the national #BlackLivesMatter movement. It is AAASP’s mission to promote cultural diversity and to engage students in multi-disciplinary and comparative approaches to learning about the varied African, African American, and Black experiences. The AAASP faculty, accordingly, denounces the hostile responses submitted by individuals to the scheduled Black Lives Matter Protest to be held at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on Thursday, November 19, as advertised on social media. When the event was announced on the Facebook invitation page, in just 24 hours reaction to this proposed peaceful assembly has taken a decided turn for the worse by individuals who have expressed vehement cyber-belligerence or “trolling” via threads posted to the announcement. It is our belief that this trolling underscores the critical need for Thursday’s event, and also for ongoing series of conversations to confront and, hopefully, to begin to overcome this denouncement of a much needed dialogue on race and ethnicity in our society.
The faculty of AAASP fully understands the urgency behind the national #BlackLivesMatter movement, the local events held here in late September, as well as those forthcoming this month on November 19th. While we cannot speak on behalf of all students of color because of differential racialization of ethnic groups, or even all students of African descent, our collective experiences inside and outside of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln amply document the sound basis for these activities. Indeed, and more importantly, they substantiate the long overdue necessity for more far-reaching measures to change the culture of race within the UNL, America’s colleges and universities, and our society-at-large. We call upon the UNL administrators to take actions to ensure the safety of its students and all of those who act in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement in general and protests in particular.
AAASP will focus on the important organizing work ahead to build this event in the hopes of cultivating participation framed within collegial and respectful discussion. We advocate a dialogue—not a diatribe—where we can engender a learning as well as an interactive environment to build a better informed society in which we all inhabit. For each and every one of us here at UNL seeks to further improve herself and himself. The lessons taught all of us by the civil and human rights activism of the 1950s to 1970s are that students, often with the grassroots as their voice, are important instructors for us all.
The African American and African Studies Program faculty expresses its strong support for the students organizing the Black Lives Matter Protest. We anticipate the beginning of fruitful conversations with all members of the Lincoln and UNL communities.
Dr. Kwakiutl L. Dreher, Associate Professor of English and Ethnic Studies
Dr. Jeannette Eileen Jones, Associate Professor of History and Ethnic Studies
Dr. Patrick D. Jones, Associate Professor of History and Ethnic Studies
Dr. Gregory E. Rutledge, Associate Professor of English and Ethnic Studies
Dr. Dawne Y. Curry, Associate Professor of History and Ethnic Studies
Dr. Lory Dance, Associate Professor of Social Studies and Ethnic Studies
Dr. Alice Kang, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Ethnic Studies
At the Institute for Ethnic Studies, we look closer, examining the world through a social justice, human rights lens.
The larger social changes of the 1960s spurred the founding of one of the oldest interdisciplinary programs of our kind. And a glance at today’s headlines shows why we continue to be one of the country’s most effective programs: We explore contemporary issues dealing with race.
Students come to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Institute for Ethnic Studies for our majors, minors and graduate specializations because we offer a complete interdisciplinary, comparative and integrative education focused on race and ethnicity, including international origins and connections.
Whether they focus on African American and African Studies, U.S. Latina/o and Latin American studies, or Native American Studies, our students interact directly with expert faculty on compelling research and stay connected with professors throughout and beyond their education. They explore their professional curiosity in a community-oriented, interactive culture that features colloquia, fascinating guest speakers and exciting events.
Graduates from the Institute for Ethnic Studies go on to careers in everything from education to government service, NGOs to international business, law enforcement to law school.
So wherever you want to go, whatever impact you want to make, start your story here.
Let curiosity move you.
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