Romance Languages statement on BLM and white supremacy

The Department of Romance Languages stands in solidarity with Black and brown people in the US and around the world. We strongly condemn racial violence and any form of oppression. We are committed to dismantling white supremacy and working to end systemic racism. We firmly say: 

Black Lives Matter! 

Les Vies Noires Comptent! 

Le Vite Nere Contano! 

Vidas Negras Importam! 

¡Las Vidas Negras Importan! 

Our collaborative project of social transformation is dedicated to challenging the white supremacy inherent in the neo-liberal capitalist order. Our research and teaching on the Romance-language world embraces black and brown communities and their knowledge. We thus commit to using our insititutional power to decolonize our research, labor, and teaching.  

We also acknowledge that stirring words alone do nothing to address institutional racism. As a result, we commit ourselves and this department to the following concrete strategies and proposals: 

  • We will do everything in our power to recruit, retain, and support diverse undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty at all ranks. 

  • We acknowledge our failings as a department and as a university in recruiting, retaining, and supporting diverse faculty, particularly African American faculty. We commit to addressing this failure by prioritizing hiring Black people in all fields and from all intellectual backgrounds. 

  • We commit to creating opportunities for and financially supporting anti-racist teaching workshops for faculty and GEs in ways that do not place additional labor on faculty and GEs of color. 

  • We urge all faculty, and in particular our faculty who have the privilege and protection of tenure, to take on and discuss the politics of citation (that Black people and other people of color are cited less often than white scholars and that the ideas and writings of Black scholars have historically been appropriated without citation) in all courses at all levels of the curriculum. 

  • We will prioritize making anti-racist texts and supplementary resources available for all remote teaching. We set this goal for all classes at all times, but we see it as a particularly pressing need during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately affected Black and brown students and other students from historically marginalized groups. 

  • We add our department to the growing list of colleagues and academic units that seek to pressure the University of Oregon to end its reliance on the Eugene Police Department and to disarm the UOPD. Indeed, we demand that the University of Oregon take these actions immediately. 

  • We commit to ensuring that RL events are welcoming to and inclusive of students from historically marginalized groups. 

  • We endorse the recent ASUO “Open Letter to the University of Oregon,” (attached) and we encourage faculty and GEs to consider making final projects, assignments, and exams optional and/or non-grade diminishing. We further ask our instructors to remind students that Provost Patrick Phillips has determined that students may take any course offered at UO P/NP during spring term 2020, and that any P grade will count toward all required courses in the French, Italian, Spanish, and Romance Languages majors and minors. 

  • We ask instructors of graduate seminars to respect the Graduate School's Spring term policies that allow graduate students to choose the P/NP option (including for "graded only" courses) up until July 16th. This policy applies to seminars required for M.A. and Ph.D. programs in Romance Languages. 

  • We encourage all members of our community to explore the ways they support #blacklivesmatter and people of color more generally. A good place to start is from this list of resources: 

  • Finally, we ask that our Romance Languages Department faculty, staff, students, and supporters hold us accountable for enacting these promises by continuing to engage in dialogue, providing guidance, and working with and alongside us in the collective project to envision and enact a world free from white supremacy, colonialism, and racial capitalism. 

We invite all of you to be in communication with us beginning now to put these ideas into practice. 

(Adapted from statements published by the U Texas Austin Department of Spanish and Portuguese and U Oregon Dept of English