A Call for Racial Justice

Department of Sociology, Colorado State University

As people around the world rise up to demand the end of police violence, anti-Blackness, and white supremacy, the CSU sociology community affirms our commitment to the struggle for racial justice. We commit to this within the halls of academia, our classrooms, our university, and in the fight for broader societal transformation.

Members of our community have been deeply affected by recent events, including the violent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others, including women and trans people whose deaths have often been less publicized. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic has drawn back the curtain on the stark health, employment, and wealth inequalities facing Black, Brown, Native, and immigrant communities in this country and around the world. Furthermore, Asian Americans are facing dramatic increases in violence, hate crimes, and state surveillance and expulsion. Just as police violence kills, the slow violence of structural inequality kills – yet this violence is often invisible to those in power and to white people.

It is our job as sociologists to tear down this curtain: to maintain the spotlight even after the protests end, to teach about structures of injustice, and to dig deeper within ourselves and our own institution to make transformations. This means pushing to materially redistribute resources and remake CSU to reflect a reality of racial justice. Too often, statements of solidarity ring hollow. They must be accompanied by action, accountability, and deep internal reflection on needed changes. Here at CSU, racist incidents happen semester after semester, and many people of color within our community feel like very little is done. We agree. When the public outrage fades, where are we? What actions are being taken? What changes are being sustained?

As sociologists, we hold great responsibility. Our Sociology Department educates students in our three concentrations, General Sociology, Environmental Sociology and Criminology/Criminal Justice, to critically analyze the structures that create and reproduce injustice in our world. We reaffirm our commitment to centering critical perspectives on inequality, institutional racism and struggles for justice in our curriculum to ensure that all our students – including those who will go on to work in law enforcement and other areas of the justice system – are provided with the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to promote racial justice in our society.

As people who study and teach about social systems and structural inequalities – we have much to contribute and, in addition to our academic work many of us are engaged in important professional, advocacy and service roles within our community. We commit to supporting anti-racism in our community and the world. Anti-racism, as Ibram X. Kendi argues, means actively working to undo the status quo of racism. This is lifelong work, and as such, this statement will be a living document that changes to reflect our Department’s new and ongoing concrete commitments. We are setting up a committee on Equity and Social Justice to bring action items to our department and our university administration. We invite all members of our Sociology community (faculty, staff, students, alumni) to join with us, offer your ideas, and hold us accountable to help create systemic change for an anti-racist world.

Our Working Group currently includes Jessie Luna, KuoRay Mao, and Lynn Hempel, and is open for all members of our community to voice ideas and concerns.