Collective Statement of Resistance and Accountability

August 14, 2020

We, GSWS, are many people, multiply Queer, including in our racial /ethnic identities. Together we are situated in the system of white supremacy. We all stand in solidarity with Black people, whose lives and worth have not been fully made to matter in our country, by white supremacy as a system. We denounce the ways in which we are complicit and implicit in this system. We actively engage with one another about this complicity as an act of radical respect. We remain accountable to one another and to our broader communities. Because our department is one that believes in praxis, particularly anti-racist intersectional praxis, we see part of our daily work as making sure the institution (VCU) lives up to the values it claims to hold. We recognize that VCU exists within a network of and in relationship to other social institutions (such as the City of Richmond, the criminal justice system, etc.), and as such we endeavor that the work we do at VCU also addresses the failings and violence of other institutions.

We announce the ways in which we work together to change.

Specifically, in this moment:

  • We condemn police brutality in all its forms
  • We call out U.S. police practices, which regularly violate international codes of justice
  • We acknowledge the heightened impact of police brutality (including but not limited to tear gas, illegal confinement, etc.), given the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in relation to Black and brown communities
  • We call upon VCU to address the violent police killing of Marcus-David Peters, a VCU College of Humanities and Sciences graduate
  • We condemn threatening protestors with arrest, and equating property damage with violence as if property damage is comparable to the structural, epistemological and cultural violence of white supremacy against Black and brown people

And always:

  • We understand that the very existence of police is an extension of white supremacy and capitalism and therefore we are abolitionist in our praxis.
  • We name, call out and push back against white supremacy in its myriad manifestations including in higher education, particularly at VCU
  • We affirm, center and honor that the necessary radical politics have come from and continue to come from people who identify as Black & trans, Black & queer, and/or Black & femme
  • We honor the unseen, unmarked work that came before that led to this particular moment, and will continue beyond this moment
  • We acknowledge the work people do around these moments can take many forms; some forms more visible than others
  • We recognize that white supremacy and anti-blackness are a global phenomenon; particularly the ways in which some cultural and religious traditions deploy them
  • We work on individual, collective and institutional decolonizing
  • We support and work toward Black thrivance that goes well beyond mere survival
  • We hold that the self-care that our own Black colleagues and specifically those who identify as women/femme engage in is an act of revolution. All of us in the department support and amplify these revolutionary acts.