GNS Statement on the Death of George Floyd and Madison Protests

We, the department of German, Nordic, and Slavic, join our voices to those of UW-Madison leaders, including Chancellor Blank and Deputy Vice Chancellor Sims, in condemning the violent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Sean Reed, and countless others at the hands of the police. We further condemn law enforcement’s escalation of violence at justified protests and the suppression of freedom to congregate peacefully nationally and here in Madison. We deplore violence in any form, physical, emotional, or systemic.

To our Black and Brown colleagues, students, friends, and family: we see your grief and acknowledge your righteous anger. Black Lives Matter! BIPOC matter!

We recognize that this most recent violence against Black people occurs both in the context of centuries of anti-Black racism in the United States and the more recent context of a pandemic that continues to kill disproportionate numbers of Black and Latinx people in Wisconsin and in the US and has created a shadow pandemic of racism and xenophobia against Asians and Asian-Americans.

In these trying times, we reaffirm our commitment to our departmental Statement on Diversity: “we strive to create inclusive excellence by valuing the contributions of people of diverse backgrounds based on their race, ethnicity, culture, veteran status, marital status, socio-economic level, national origin, religious belief, ability, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, and class.” As we note there, this is an ongoing task for all of us, and today we also acknowledge how far we have to go in unlearning our socialization into systems of injustice. We recognize that there is no aspect of American life that is not impacted by white supremacy, from our city to our university to our department to ourselves, and we commit to the work of creating institutions where all identities can thrive and are guaranteed to claim their rightfully deserved space at the table.

As noted by Patrick Sims, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion, in his statement “When will we get it?”: “Without people of every race, creed, age and station in life who believe in doing the right thing from the heart, soul, mind and purse – yes, purse – the simultaneous systemic and behavioral work needed to dismantle institutional injustice and reverse its impact will not occur.”