Social Justice Statement of Solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement
University at Buffalo SUNY School of Social Work
Members of the Faculty Council of the UB School of Social Work raise our voices in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and other struggles to end the dehumanization of people of color and to promote equitable and humane treatment for all people. This dehumanization, which is pervasive in our culture and societal institutions, leads to the perpetration of systemic violence and human rights violations upon communities of color. Although dehumanization is a global phenomenon, we focus our current attention on the United States. Among the many examples of this dehumanization we note:
- The murders of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Oscar Grant, Akai Gurley, Charly “Africa” Leundeu Keunang, Tony Robinson, Jr., and scores of other unarmed Black men and women, youth, and children by police officers in communities throughout this country;
- The institutional racism within the criminal justice system reflected in the mass incarceration of black and brown people within America’s prisons; daily occurrences of police harassment, intimidation, and brutality; and stop-and-frisk polices, stand-your-ground laws, and the militarization of police forces that disproportionately target communities of color;
- The persistent disparities in housing, education, income, wealth, health, and employment that are caused by public policies and private practices that actively privilege white people and disadvantage people of color;
- Language that demonizes people of color, disregards basic civil rights for homeless individuals and people in poverty, denigrates immigrants and migrant workers as “illegals,” and racial slurs and racist caricatures of American Indian people as mascots for athletic teams;
- The gutting of the Voting Rights Act by the U.S. Supreme Court and efforts by states to pass voter suppression legislation that will disproportionately impact African American voters.
As a School of Social Work dedicated to promoting social and economic justice, human rights, and a trauma-informed perspective, we will continue to:
- Be agents of change for racial justice, from local to global communities, through our research, teaching, and community service;
- Promote critical dialogues within and beyond our school about how racism and other forms of structural oppression and structural inequalities affect us, our relationships, our organizations, and our communities;
- Acknowledge that silence and inaction contribute to the maintenance of ongoing institutional racism and other structural inequalities;
- Support UBSSW community members’ participation in direct social and political actions that promote human rights and racial and economic justice;
- Strengthen the curriculum by deepening content and expanding curricular offerings focused on advocacy, community organizing, restorative justice practices, and intergroup dialogues.
Laina Y. Bay-Cheng
Nancy J. Smyth
Resources Addressing Racial Justice
Alexander, M. (2012). The new Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. New York: The New Press.
Anderson, C. (August 29, 2014). Ferguson isn’t about black rage against cops. It’s white rage against progress. The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ferguson-wasnt-black-rage-against-copsit-was-white-rage-against-progress/2014/08/29/3055e3f4-2d75-11e4-bb9b-997ae96fad33_story.html
Balko, R. (September 3, 2014). How municipalities in St. Louis County, Mo., profit from poverty. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/09/03/how-st-louis-county-missouri-profits-from-poverty/
Bennett, B. (December 17, 2014). I don’t know what to do with good white people. http://jezebel.com/i-dont-know-what-to-do-with-good-white-people-1671201391
Casselman, B. (August 26, 2014). The poorest corner of town. http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/ferguson-missouri/
Cooper, B. (January 21, 2015). Maureen Dowd’s clueless white gaze: What’s really behind the “Selma” backlash. http://www.salon.com/2015/01/21/maureen_dowds_clueless_white_gaze_whats_really_behind_the_selma_backlash/
Democracy NOW. (November 20, 2014). “Just Mercy”: Bryan Stevenson on Ferguson, Prison Reform & Why the Opposite of Poverty is Justice. http://www.democracynow.org/2014/11/20/just_mercy_bryan_stevenson_on_ferguson see also
Democracy NOW. (December 1, 2014). Dehumanizing the Black Lives of America: Michael Eric Dyson on Ferguson, Police Brutality and Race. http://www.democracynow.org/2014/12/1/dehumanizing_the_black_lives_of_america
Democracy NOW. (February 10, 2015). Ferguson Residents Challenge “Modern Debtors’ Prison Scheme” Targeting Blacks with Fines, Arrests. http://www.democracynow.org/2015/2/10/ferguson_residents_challenge_modern_debtors_prison
Duca, L. (August 20, 2014). 7 documentaries you can stream right now to better understand what’s going on in Ferguson. The Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/20/ferguson-documentaries_n_5694439.html
Eberhardt, Jennifer. L.
Dr. Eberhardt is a social psychologist at Stanford University who studies race and inequity, especially in the criminal justice context. Her faculty page can be found at: http://web.stanford.edu/~eberhard/ She was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Award in 2014 in recognition of her work. Her webpage is a good place to find up-to-date, state-of-the-art research findings that directly relate to “real world issues.”
Fisher, M. (2014). How we’d cover Ferguson if it happened in another country. Retrieved from http://www.vox.com/2014/8/15/6005587/ferguson-satire-another-country-russia-china
Garza, A. (October 7, 2014). A herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. http://thefeministwire.com/2014/10/blacklivesmatter-2/
Goodman, A. (November 27, 2014). Shaking the heavens in Ferguson, Missouri. http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2014/11/27/shaking_the_heavens_in_ferguson_missouri
Harding, K. Ten things white people can do about Ferguson besides tweet. http://www.damemagazine.com/2014/08/14/ten-things-white-people-can-do-about-ferguson-besides-tweet
Jarecki, E., Barnes, J., Fraser, N., Glover, D., Legend, J., Pitt, B., Simmons, R., … Virgil Films (Firm),. (2013). The house I live in. [Documentary]
Jeffries, M.P. (November 28, 2014). Ferguson must force us to face anti-blackness. http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/11/28/ferguson-must-force-face-anti-blackness/pKVMpGxwUYpMDyHRWPln2M/story.html
Moyers & Company, Interview with Michelle Alexander: Locked Out of the American Dream, Published on December 20, 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om2hx6Xm2JE
Racismreview.com is a recommended blog. According to the site, the contributors “are scholars and researchers from sociology and a number of other social science disciplines and a variety of academic institutions across the U.S., as well as in Canada, Europe, and elsewhere.”
This American Life (2015). Cops see it differently, Part 1 and Part 2.
U.S. Department of Justice (2015). Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department. Retrieved from http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/opa/press-releases/attachments/2015/03/04/ferguson_police_department_report.pdf
Western, B. (2006). Punishment and inequality in America. New York: Russell Sage.
Wilkerson, I. (2010). The warmth of other suns: The epic story of America’s great migration. New York: Vintage Books.