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Black Lives Matter and the “I Can’t Breathe” Anti-Racism Protests

16 June 2020

UCL Anthropology’s statement and position on racism and the on-going protests.

UCL Anthropology condemns the brutal killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and most recently Rayshard Brooks, as well as all the other Americans of African descent whose lives have been subject to extrajudicial killings and other forms of violence by the police and other White supremacist vigilante groups in the US.

We recognize these killings form part of a deep and continuing history of systemic racism and spectacular violence against African Americans in the US, as well as Black people in the UK, France, Europe and beyond, through widespread techniques such as the death penalty, mass incarceration, “stop and search,” ethnic profiling, and the national commemoration of proponents of slavery and racism. George Floyd’s video-recorded lynching at the hands of one of the legalized instruments of brutality of White supremacy has served as a waking call to all who may previously have been blind to the system of colonial terror that Black and other minorities are subject to on a daily basis in the US and across the world.

The UCL Anthropology Department stands in full solidarity with the on-going historical protests led by the Black Lives Matter and “I can’t breathe” movements in the US, the UK and globally, demanding an end to violence and institutionalized and casual racism against Black people. In condemning all forms of racism, we are especially acutely aware of the racist attacks, threats and other forms of hostility and intimidation directed at Chinese and other Asian peoples in Europe, which have escalated alarmingly during the current global pandemic. These have included horrific racist attacks on some of our own students at UCL. We are fully committed to tackling all such issues within our community and to using our full influence to speak out against the racism directed against Asian peoples throughout wider social and political structures in the UK.

As part of our support to end all forms of racism, we are currently critically examining our own institutionalized practices to ensure that UCL Anthropology becomes a fully anti-racist intellectual, work, study and social environment for all our students and staff. Throughout this process, we are committed to working most especially with our students and staff from minority backgrounds to ensure all issues or concerns they raise are fully addressed.

We are also committed to ensuring the increased representation of minority voices within our Department, fully recognizing our failures to address this in the past. To facilitate this process and identify, strategize and attain our short, medium- and long-term goals, we have established an Anti-Racism Committee which will oversee, amongst other initiatives, efforts to decolonize the curriculum of the Department. Anyone who wishes to contact this committee can email its Chair (Antonia Walford) or any of its members and we have also set up an anonymous feedback forum for staff and students which can be accessed here. In addition, we include here a number of important links to institutional resources across UCL and beyond: