Today we, the steering committee of the Diversity, Decolonization, and the German Curriculum (DDGC) collective, express solidarity with the international protests against anti-Black racism and police murders of Black people. We grieve Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and many other Black lives taken by police brutality in recent months. We say the names of just some of the Black lives that have been taken by government-driven institutional violence and neglect in Germany: Oury Jalloh, William Tonou-Mbobda, Rooble Warsame, Christy Schwundeck, Yaya Jabbie, Laya Alama-Condé; in Switzerland: Mike Ben Peter, Lamin Fatty, Hervé Mandundu; in Austria: Marcus Omofuma, Cheibani Wague, Edwin Ndupu. We join all families and communities gathered to demand justice as they – yet again – call on people everywhere to recognize how deeply interwoven anti-Black racism is into the very fabric of contemporary life. They demand due process and, in fact, have begun to dismantle the structures that uphold racism and white supremacy.
As international protests already signal, racism circulates transnationally, and confronting and dismantling systemic racism is work in which every person has to engage. As scholars, public intellectuals, and community organizers have shown time and again, racism is entangled in European culture and history. White supremacy emerged from European thought and colonial practice, and has long informed various segments of European cultural, social, and intellectual life. This includes all educational institutions. These have played a central role in developing, sanctioning, and implementing structural racism. To this day, educational institutions continue to replicate the very structures of injustice that uphold racism.
Our goal as educators and researchers is to work towards dismantling white supremacy and the racist conditions that are the source of ongoing suffering and death in Black communities. At this moment this work needs to expose the centuries of oppression of Black people that permeates every arena of our professional and personal lives. Let us also simultaneously amplify the voices of Black scholars, activists, writers, and artists in achieving this aim. We commit to listening and learning from the experiences and scholarship of our Black colleagues, most recently via #BlackInTheIvory and #PublishingPaidMe. Their testimonials should guide how we confront the structures of our respective institutions and how we challenge the epistemologies and ontologies that shape the discourses of our field(s).
We recognize that the current pandemic merely amplifies existing inequities and racist violence. The Black activists and communities who are leading the international protests are further exposing themselves to danger in their fight for a better future. To Black members of our community, we pledge to join and amplify the collective call for transformation and justice. To those associated with our collective who are not Black, we call on you to take action against all forms of violence against Black people and agitate for structural change in your own respective communities and professional contexts.
As the steering committee, we commit to doing the work of learning and educating about the ways white supremacy structures German studies and the university, and invite you to join our efforts. Part of this work means recognizing the intersections among anti-Black racism, anti-Asian racism, anti-Muslim racism, and settler colonialism at work in the current moment. Here, it is important to acknowledge that prioritizing Black epistemologies and scholarship does not detract from other struggles to affirm BIPOC work generally. All of this work requires recognizing how the global heterocapitalist system as a superstructure has developed out of white supremacy and anti-Black racism since, at latest, the 15th century CE.
The commitments and considerations outlined in this statement will continue to form the basis for the mission of the DDGC collective, out of which will grow other commitments to foreground diverse, decolonial, anticolonial, and BIPOC scholarship and teaching more broadly. They will inform our discussions, programming, and future planning. Moreover, they will be the basis for our collective’s advocacy work in German studies. We invite you to join in holding us and each other accountable for upholding these commitments in each of our personal and professional lives over the coming years and decades.
The DDGC Steering Committee