An Open Letter from the Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at VCU

August 18, 2017

We return to campus this year anguished but resolute, determined to resist the violence and visceral hate confronting us and our students. Though there are so many events, unfortunately, that we could write about, we feel compelled to speak out in the aftermath of the violence this past weekend in Charlottesville. As faculty and staff of one of the state universities in Virginia, located in the former capital of the confederacy, and in a city with its own shameful and brutal history of enslavement, we must speak out and condemn in the strongest terms the white supremacist attacks, as well as revisionist histories and false equivalencies between white supremacy and anti-racist activism that continue to circulate.

We recognize that these abhorrent displays of racist violence are not the only forms of racism and inequity faced by our students, colleagues, and communities. Injustice manifests not only as torch-wielding klansmen, but also through more subtle expressions of white supremacy that continue to animate and coexist with white liberalism.

We echo President Rao’s message on August 13 to the VCU community, condemning all acts of intolerance and reminding us about our core values. As President Rao stated, we at VCU will enact our “steadfast commitment to strengthen our campus community and deepen a climate of honesty and integrity where all people are valued.”

We affirm our commitment to collective and intellectual transformations and stand in solidarity with students, faculty, and staff on our campus, as well with those in the broader community who are most vulnerable but continue to struggle against bigotry and violence.