The English Graduate Group is the primary group that convenes and represents graduate students in the Department of English. It comprises several different committees and serves as a liaison between graduate students, faculty, and staff.
Statement on Black Lives Matter Protests
(updated 9 June 2020)
We are writing to condemn the recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, Mike Ramos, Tony McDade, and Breonna Taylor, among countless others. These deaths are part of a long, ongoing history of systemic anti-Black racism, white terror, and police brutality. We recognize that murders of Black persons are not always publicly visible or acknowledged and that police violence against members of the Black community is not specific to any gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, ability, age, or religion. Black lives matter. We call on the University of Texas at Austin to divest from police, and redirect funds to directly assist BIPOC in the university community.
We stand in solidarity with those who are fighting for racial justice and with BIPOC undergraduate students, graduate students, staff, and faculty at our university and beyond. We condemn violence against all protestors and activists. We recognize that the atrocities of the past week come during a time that is already marked by the trauma, grief, uncertainty, and precarity that COVID-19 has magnified disproportionately in communities of color. Nothing that we write here could be enough and this statement comes too late. We also acknowledge that the very need to write this statement arises from our own complicity in upholding white supremacy.
As a discipline, English has long been complicit in systemic racism and violence enacted on Black bodies. Artists, scholars, and teachers of color have been institutionally marginalized even as they have made crucial intellectual contributions to literary studies. Likewise, in UT Austin’s Department of English, students, staff, and faculty of color take on disproportionate amounts of labor in teaching, research, service, and mentoring, often going unacknowledged and under- or uncompensated. In our work as Teaching Assistants and Assistant Instructors, graduate students in our department work with hundreds of undergraduate students each semester. As members of a majority-white graduate program we acknowledge that our curricula and pedagogy–and the very presence of our bodies in the classroom–frequently marginalize undergraduate students and authors of color. In a department with an expressed interest in ethnic studies and strong interdisciplinary connections across campus, white members of our community have failed to advocate for Black, Brown, and Indigenous lives both within and beyond academic spaces.
As the graduate student groups responsible for building community amongst graduate students and cultivating a more positive departmental climate, we acknowledge that our work has failed to explicitly address issues of racism in our department. We recognize that systemic problems require systemic solutions, and we are committed to continuing the momentum that current protests have initiated by taking more intentional steps to dismantle white supremacy and racism in our department, our classrooms, and our communities.
This summer, the English Graduate Group will partner with the Graduate Climate Committee (GCC) and host a series of discussions for graduate student community members to set goals for our continued, tangible support of the Black Lives Matter movement going forward. We are open to any and all suggestions for advancing anti-racist work within and outside our department. To attend the first session, which will be held next week, suggest topics for discussion, and recommend additional anti-racist initiatives, please fill out this Google Form.
Until then, we invite you to use and share the resources we’ve shared with you to support your activism, civic engagement, and learning this summer. We will house this list of resources on the EGG website and welcome your recommendations for additions. Please feel free to contact the EGG Steering Committee (Annie, Bry, Hannah, and Erin) at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, concerns, or suggestions.
- Bry Barrera
- Ali Gunnells
- I.B. Hopkins
- Myles Jeffrey
- Amber Kinui
Department of Rhetoric and Writing Lower-Division Curriculum Committee
- Tristan Hanson
Graduate Program Committee Graduate Student Representatives
- Ricky Shear
- Michelle Rabe
Professional Skills Subcommittee
- Brie Winnega
Words and Process Committee Graduate Student Representative
- Meg Mendenhall
Department of English Graduate Student Assembly Representative and Alternate
- Annie Bares
- Erin Yanota