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Washington State University

Call to Action: to End Racial Injustice and Violence

Posted by jolene.knight | June 25, 2020
Dear HD and Prevention Science colleagues,

As our nation confronts the long-standing issues of injustice and violence against Black, Indigenous, and Hispanic/Latinx people, we would like to express our strongest solidarity with the Black Lives Matter and other social justice movements working to end the systemic racism embedded in U.S. society and institutions. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others who lost their lives to systemic racism and police brutality have brought people across our nation together to speak out for change. The violent acts across our nation come at a time when COVID-19 has already profoundly disrupted our world. Communities of color have been the hardest hit by this pandemic, which are the same communities that are continuously weighed down by a history of prejudice, poverty, and racism.

As scholars and fellow Cougs, it is our duty to see this as a call to be intentionally mindful, at both our personal and professional levels, on how we can reimagine our teaching, mentoring, and scholarship at this critical moment. It will be challenging to confront these systemic issues in our community, but we must. We must encourage ongoing discussions around the topics of systemic racism to break down the barriers that separate us, no matter how uncomfortable these subjects may be. Toward this end, we offer below several specific actions we can all take to confront anti-Blackness and disrupt silence on these issues:

This is our call to action. We will commit to sustained efforts in our workspace. Although we do not have the answers today, we will continue to seek them together. The American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA) recently published an open letter that we believe offers additional examples of concrete actions any of us can take:

Among the actions suggested by AAPA, we would like to highlight the need to “Decolonize and Recenter Your Teaching and Research” by integrating marginalized voices into all aspects of our work: Here is a link that describes more about this process. We have also provided a specific action plan (developed by Prevention Science graduate student, Brianna Hernandez), with steps we all can take now, as an attachment to this email. We encourage you to register for the Academics for Black Wellness and Survival Week, beginning on Juneteenth, Friday June 19 through Thursday, June 25, 2020. More information about this online event and other action resources is available here:

We will prioritize time this fall to discussing how we, as a department, can commit to concrete action in the coming year, focusing on equity mindedness:

We hope each of you will find safe and effective ways to keep pushing progress forward.

Michael Cleveland

Elizabeth Soliday

Brittany Cooper