Statement against Racism

The Faculty members and Graduate students of the Department of German and Scandinavian would like to add our voices to the voices that have recently risen in protest against racism in general, and against anti-Black racism in particular, which manifests itself all-too-often in murderous violence in this country, as in so many other ways. As scholars and teachers who specialize in the study of the German and Scandinavian cultures, we are acutely aware of, and attuned to, the inhumanity of the horrors that are inevitably produced by those who adhere to the deluded racist doctrines of white supremacy. Such horrors were produced by Germany, Austria and their allies in the form of the Holocaust under the Nazi regime, as well as, earlier in the twentieth century, in the form of genocidal atrocities in the German colonies in Africa (in today's Burundi, Cameroon, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Togo). More broadly, doctrines of white supremacy rationalized the long European-American history of colonialist exploitation whose worst manifestation was the Atlantic slave trade and its aftermath, which has not ended. As scholars and teachers who work in the State of Oregon, a state explicitly founded on racist principles not so long ago, we feel that our responsibility to expose and question the history of European racism is augmented by an additional particular responsibility to combat, expose, and question the racism in our milieu and in our own local and national historical context. In our teaching and research, as in our lives more generally, we oppose white supremacist doctrines and attempt to shed historical and critical light on their origins and destructive implications.

Accordingly, we wish to express our solidarity with the present (as well as past and future) protests against the intolerable racism that not only persists in this country but has recently experienced a renewal of its apparent social acceptability in some circles, due in part to reprehensible and backward-looking encouragement, implicit and explicit, from a certain number of prominent officials on all levels of government, some of whom have gone so far as to show themselves openly receptive to Neo-Nazi influence. We oppose the militarization of the police, and the dangerous expansion of the prison-industrial complex in recent decades that has gone hand in hand with this militarization, an expansion in which racial bias against Black Americans, as well as other people of color, is egregiously manifest and demonstrably intentional.

We affirm emphatically that Black lives matter, and we stand in support of our Black students and colleagues, and all people of color, as well as members of other vulnerable minority populations, in the university and in the larger community, both locally and nationally. We further support the demands of the Black Student Collective and urge the university administration to fulfill them to the greatest extent possible.

This is a time of political danger, to be sure, but also a time of the hope inspired by widespread protests on a national and global scale. We rededicate ourselves to work in the spirit of these protests toward a just American and global society without delay.