Deeply disturbed by the stories of our students and alumni who have experienced racism at Loyola both inside and outside the classroom;
outraged by the continuing endangerment of Black lives by racist state violence and police brutality;
and profoundly committed to the task of creating a more just society in which every member of our communities is safe, valued and fully recognized in their humanity, specificity and singularity;
We, the faculty of the philosophy department of Loyola University Maryland, stand in solidarity with Black, Indigenous and People of Color at Loyola and beyond.
We make the following commitments:
1) We will do more and do better to ensure that our courses are a resource for all students to enter into a critical and constructive understanding of contemporary racial justice issues and for confronting these issues in their own lives and communities. We will engage with these issues not just in diversity-designated courses or as an "addendum" to our curriculum. Rather, we pledge to integrate a diversity of texts and viewpoints into our courses that address the moral problems of discrimination and inequality at all levels,paying particular attention to anti-Black racism as a problem endemic to the United States and therefore to Loyola University Maryland.
2) When applicable, we will acknowledge and critically engage with the role that certain canonical figures, texts, or traditions in the history of Western philosophy have played in contributing to or justifying racist or colonialist ideologies. We will not 'whitewash' the history of white supremacy in the philosophical canon.
3) In our work as core advisors, we will do more and do better to support, mentor, and advocate for BIPOC students in their pursuit of whichever academic path they are most inspired to pursue, be it in a STEM major, in our own department, or in any other division or department within the university. We take the feedback voiced by students and alumni that there is a ‘pipeline problem’ of supporting BIPOC students in their pursuit of STEM majors. That problem is multifaceted and addressing it will require the contributions of many divisions across the university. For our part, we commit to fulfilling our duties as core advisors by being available to our advisees as mentors, advocates and guides; communicating honestly, early, and often to students interested in STEM majors about what that academic path will require and involve; offering appropriate encouragement, referrals and advocacy; and bringing to our advising work an extra awareness of the systemic costs of prematurely counseling BIPOC students away from STEM majors.
4) We will do our own work as educators to develop and improve our capacity to create anti-racist class cultures. We will train in and practice inclusive pedagogy, repair work, understanding implicit bias and addressing microaggressions. We will strive to create "brave spaces" in our classrooms in which students can develop skills for navigating difficult topics skillfully and respectfully. As educators, we will seek to "bend our privilege" (as Dr. Karsonya Wise Whitehead puts it) to de-center norms of whiteness, to model critical racial awareness, and to ensure that every student in the room feels empowered to speak and participate as a coequal member of our learning community. In the words of our colleague Dr. Jim Snow, we seek to promote every student in claiming an education.
5) We acknowledge that becoming an anti-racist department requires long-term discernment, engagement and action that we cannot accomplish in a single statement or a single semester. We commit and will re-commit to this work until Loyola is a thoroughly anti-racist, inclusive space for learning and living well. As we continue to learn and improve, we ask that students and the rest of the Loyola community hold us accountable to these commitments.
Finally, we unequivocally affirm the importance of proclaiming that Black Lives Matter.
Although, on its own, a statement that "all lives matter" may be true, it is painfully clear that, when it comes to Black lives in particular, the present reality of the United States and Loyola University Maryland fails to reflect that truth. It would be a beautiful country and world, indeed, if stating the equality of all people morally, legally, and within our culture were a truism. But that is not our history, nor is it our present. The history of the United States is the history of terrorizing and snuffing out Black life through police killings and white supremacist vigilantism that has taken the lives of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and countless others. It is the history and present reality of mass incarceration and over-policing of Black communities, which ensnares a staggering one out of every three Black men at some point in their lifetime. It is the history of blockbusting and other discriminatory financial practices which robbed African Americans of their greatest chance at accruing economic security and generational wealth. It is the history of voter suppression and planned gerrymandering to suppress the strength of the African American vote. It is the history of segregation plans which were supposed to be "separate but equal" but which, in the end, proved that separation is inherently unequal. It is also the history of Black excellence that has been variously ignored, marginalized, exploited, or appropriated. The history of the United States is inextricable from the history of the enslavement, exploitation, suffering, and early death of Black Americans, and we are very clearly not past that history.
We the philosophers of Loyola University Maryland pledge to recognize, honestly and with a profound sense of sorrow, the history and present reality of systemic racism that has degraded and endangered Black lives. We pledge to involve ourselves, presently, in a systematic effort to unravel and dismantle racial injustice through a public philosophy of theory and practice. We pledge to press ourselves into a future that embraces the redemption that only equality and justice for all can yield. Therefore, it is necessary and urgent to repeat and affirm that Black lives matter until it is manifestly the case throughout our university and our society that all lives DO matter equally and to us all.