The killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer is yet another chapter in the long history of racial oppression and injustice in the United States. This killing, along with the recent killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others, cannot stand unchallenged. The people marching in the streets all over the United States and in other parts of the world are demanding change and an end to the violent reality that characterizes American society today.
The outrage over these most recent killings is only amplified by effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which have so clearly shed light on the systemic inequalities that shape people’s lives, particularly the lives of African-Americans and other people of color, in the United States.
We at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies are committed to change, and we stand in solidarity with protesters who are demanding an end to a long history of systemic racism in the United States, whether that be in the institutions of policing and the criminal justice system, health care provision, education, housing, banking, or any other aspect of life. We condemn the repression of peaceful protest and the increased militarization of the government’s response, as are all too evident on the streets of our city.
In a May 31, 2020 message titled “Confronting Racism,” Georgetown University President DeGioia tells us that we all have an obligation to fight racism and injustice in our midst:
“Individually, […] we must determine how we contribute to perpetuating injustice and sustaining structures that cannot continue and that now must be reimagined. And, for us in our shared membership in this Georgetown University community, it remains for us in the Academy to contribute to this work of reimagining the social, political, economic and moral structures to ensure justice for all—and especially for those for whom it has been too long denied.”
Today we affirm publicly that we are committed to being part of this reimagining and necessary structural change.
- As a center of research and learning, we will work to redress racial inequality in our own institution. While Georgetown has begun important work to address its own history of racism and slavery, much more needs to be done to diversify our institution at every level, and to educate for anti-racism and social justice.
- As residents of the Washington area, we will seek to help effect change in our neighborhoods that leads to greater equality for all members of our communities.
- As scholars of the Arab world, we will commit to better understanding and teaching about the ways in which racism contributes to injustice in the region.
- As scholars of global politics, society, economics, and history, we will continue to deepen and elucidate our understandings of the connections between U.S. foreign and domestic policies, the global flows of technology, policing practices, and weaponry, and the policing practices and militarization of daily life in the Arab world.
In the coming weeks and months we will be engaging our community in helping us rise to these challenges. We want to hear from you.
Center for Contemporary Arab Studies