Message Sent to SWS Members on June 2, 2020
These are challenging times we are living in. In so many ways our lives have been disrupted or put on pause as we navigate the various stages of the COVID-19 Pandemic, hoping things will get back to “normal.” And now, we are in the throes of competing epidemics, this time in the form of systemic racism, as seen in Amy Cooper’s false 911 Central Park call on Christian Cooper, the murder of George Floyd by four police officers in Minneapolis, the killing of Ahmaud Arbery while jogging by two armed White men in South Georgia, and the shooting of Breonna Taylor in her own home by police officers in Kentucky. Lest we forget, Tony McDade, a Black transgender man was also killed by police in Tallahassee, Florida on May 27th, 2020.
As sociologists, we know that these are not isolated incidents and that they form part of a historical process of systemic racism against Black men, women, trans, non-binary and intersex people in this country. As an intersectional feminist professional organization, we know that the intersections of race, class, sexuality, and other oppressive structures are key components that must be recognized and acknowledged in any conversation about these injustices. Not only has COVID-19 disrupted our way of life and our comfort zones, but it has disproportionately affected people of color, particularly Black communities who are most often frontline workers or among the poorest in our society. Statistics are clear that they are disproportionately impacted by unemployment, loss of housing, positive test cases and deaths from this virus and homicides generally. Likewise, statistics are clear about disproportionate rates of police brutality, sentencing and imprisonment of Black and Brown people, rape and sexual abuse of Black and Brown women, and violence against LGBTQI communities. Institutional racism is a painful experience for all who have to live through it whether in the United States or abroad, past or present.
This country needs to do better and we need to be more self-reflective about how we position ourselves in this conversation and everyday actions, whether as individuals (e.g., how we practice social justice in our own lives, professionally and personally), and in what kind of changes we want to see in our society. SWS has to be part of this conversation and make its voice heard in our scholarship, pedagogy, and activism. We should condemn recent atrocities perpetrated by the police on Black people and stand in solidarity with the protest movements across the country and around the world. We are having conversations and preparing a formal statement for the public. But as we do this work, we wanted to make it clear that we stand in solidarity with our Black students and colleagues and with all communities of color widely. We invite you to share your thoughts, concerns, and ideas about ways in which SWS can support Black feminist membership at this time and moving forward.
SWS Council and SWS Co-Chairs of the Sister to Sister Committee
Please stay tuned for additions to this conversation.