CENES Statement on Racial Justice

The Department of Central, Eastern, and Northern European Studies (CENES) declares its solidarity with all who have taken a clear stand against anti-Black racism, police brutality, and white supremacy in Canada, the United States, and around the world. We further condemn all forms of anti-Indigenous and anti-Asian racialized violence. We mourn the victims of racism and with their families and communities.

We are shocked and devastated by the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Regis Korchinski-Paquet and the many other Black lives lost because of racism. Anti-Black racism is ingrained in academic life and culture. Canadian universities are no exception. This was painfully evident in summer 2019, in the case of Shelby McPhee, a graduate student from Nova Scotia, who was racially profiled on the UBC campus while attending Congress 2019 as a delegate for the Black Canadian Studies Association.

As academic community members, it is not only our obligation to speak out against systemic racism at the University of British Columbia and elsewhere. We also see it as an imperative to dismantle institutional practices that harm our Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour colleagues, students, and community members. Part of this work entails attending to the long and persistent history of settler-colonial violence that shapes university life.

We commit to inclusivity and social justice in our academic life. To this end, we will examine our own biases and strive to incorporate active antiracist practices in our curricula, research, and teaching. This must include a concerted effort toward, and accountability for, changing our undergraduate and graduate programs, courses, and modes of instruction. We call on all of our colleagues to raise awareness about the silenced Black and Indigenous voices and their histories in our fields of study. We affirm and recognize our debt to Black, Asian, and Indigenous scholars working in German, Nordic, Slavic Studies, and beyond.

In addition, we echo the sentiments in the statements condemning anti-Black racism issued by the Modern Language Association and the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. We further acknowledge and support the statements issued by the German Studies Association Initiative for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies, the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages, and the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study.

Black Lives Matter!