June 8, 2020
The recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd illustrate the severe threat that systemic, anti-black racism poses to African Americans, indeed, people of African descent around the world. Such killings are part of a tragic pattern in the United States that has a deep and painful history stretching back in time more than four hundred years. The racism of the past endures in the present, continuing to threaten our students, our faculty, staff colleagues, and all those who make our work possible and give it meaning. We condemn racism and oppression in all its forms.
Protests in American cities have often followed these killings, but this time the killings have led to protests in cities around the world, in places such as London, Dublin, Berlin, Krakow, Milan, Binnish, Perth, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, Mexico City, Toronto, Bridgetown, and Kingston. Such a global outcry speaks to the breadth of our commitments as historians and as a department to shed light upon and strive to correct injustice in the United States and around the world. We stand in solidarity with the families who have lost their loved ones to racist violence, and pledge to work with those who demand change in the systems of policing, justice, and economic inequality that allow these killings to continue.
We also take this moment as an opportunity for critical self-reflection on our own policies and practices. For far too long our department has been predominantly white and male. For some years we have striven to change this pattern by recruiting faculty and graduate students of color. We also encourage anti-racist practices in our pedagogy and curriculum. Next year, for example, we will offer twenty undergraduate courses and nearly a dozen graduate courses focused on Black History in the United States, in Africa, and in Latin America and the Caribbean. Our hope is to contribute to making real and lasting change happen here at Yale and in the historical profession at large. These are beginnings not ends. We fully own that we still have much ground to cover in our efforts to combat racism and prejudice, and we look to this moment of crisis and change as a clarion call to renew and strengthen our commitment to racial justice.