DAC Statement on Racial Justice 6/22/2020
Black Lives Matter. As a country, we’ve heard this cry ring through the streets and social media corridors for eight years since the killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012. Now, in the wake of the violent deaths of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Michael Ramos, and Breonna Taylor at the hands of the police, the University of Texas Libraries’ Diversity Action Committee wants to add our voices in stating this phrase loudly and clearly. Black Lives Matter.
It’s a phrase that encompasses more than three simple words and is often misunderstood. It evokes 400 years of violence, oppression, and neglect. Enslaved Africans arrived in America in 1619, near Port Comfort, Virginia. These enslaved people would not enjoy the hope of a new life or freedom, and the lives of their descendants have a striking parallel. The voices calling for justice are the voices of these descendants, those freed from bondage by the 13th amendment to the U.S Constitution. However, they do not enjoy the rights guaranteed by the 14th: the privileges of citizenship, due process, and equal protection under the law. Since their arrival at Port Comfort, African Americans have been subjected to a systemic environment of racism originating in the justification of slavery. Due to this pervasive system, black people have a different experience in the United States. They are disproportionately subjected to profiling, intimidation and violence. Black men, women and children continue to be murdered indiscriminately. Black Lives Matter is a cry for justice and for America to recognize that the black citizens of this country do not experience the promise of America. When there are cries for justice, they must be understood within this historical context.
It is DAC’s core mission to promote social justice at UT Libraries and across campus. We commit to engaging our community, our colleagues, and our patrons in the ongoing conversation and movement toward racial justice. Moving forward, we will share platforms for self-reflection and activism that will empower all UT Libraries staff to better support our colleagues and patrons who are most directly impacted by the fallacy of white supremacy. Real progress toward racial justice requires all of us working together. One committee can’t do it alone. Therefore, we ask you to join us in learning and acting to address historic patterns of racial injustice.
The Diversity Action Committee will:
- make racial justice the central theme of all of our programming for the coming year
- in partnership with Library Staff Council, facilitate a daily challenge for one month over the summer to assist in individual self-reflection and education around topics of racial injustice
- and provide in-depth, contextual information on systematic oppression as it applies to police brutality, profiling, redlining, bail reform, incarceration, income inequality, education, and other facets of racial injustice through an ongoing series of blog posts.
What you can do:
- Subscribe to Austin Justice Coalition listserve for information about policy work and political activism
- Support black-owned businesses
- Engage in the 28-day Me and White Supremacy challenge
- Review the Strategies and Activities for Reducing Racial Prejudice and Racism community toolbox
- Combat mass incarceration by disrupting the money bail system
- Donate to the #BlackLivesMatter national organization
- Advocate for immediate police reform
- Black Voices and Anti-Racist Resources LibGuide by Adriana Cásarez
- Racial Geography Tour
- National Museum of African American History and Culture Virtual Tour
- DAC blog post about Juneteenth
- Managing in the Age of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor (talk by Dr. Moore, VP for Diversity and Community Engagement)
- 1619 Project