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Black Lives Matter at Ramapo College and in the School of Humanities and Global Studies

“Truth be told”:  the last words in US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey’s “Native Guard” name what we do in the School of Humanities and Global Studies.  The humanities can tell truths and reveal little-known stories that help us better understand our world, and give us the tools to change it.

The faculty and staff of the School of Humanities and Global Studies at Ramapo College commit to uncovering, sharing, and honoring these stories as part of our effort to create a more just community, and a more just world.  We believe that Black Lives Matter, and we commit to ending systemic and institutional racism, anti-Blackness and all forms of discrimination.  As Dr. Martin Luther King declared in his famous Letter from the Birmingham Jail, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”  The events of 2020 have made it impossible to ignore this essential truth.

In our current moment, the BLM movement has forced us to reckon with our past, and how that past continues to shape our present.  So many of us have been marginalized: by race, by gender, sexual identity, disability, religious practice, class background, ethnicity, nationality, and language of the home.  This movement asks us to consider how these marginalized identities intersect with race.   This work means engaging all members of our school in critically addressing the long-standing inequalities and injustices that were raised and highlighted in the last few months.

We pledge to listen to and support students, faculty, and staff of color in our collective struggles against racist and anti-Black practices, policies, systems, and structures within and beyond our institution. We aspire to create a truly inclusive and caring space for living, learning, and working at Ramapo College.

James Baldwin reminds us:  “The paradox of education is precisely this; that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.”

Therefore, we promise to continually engage in self-reflection as to how our own biases shape our perception of our society and our world. As educators, scholars, and artists, we recognize that it is both our privilege and our responsibility to strive for equality and social justice.

We acknowledge the significance of amplifying Black, indigenous, and other marginalized voices, and are committed to helping our students and those who encounter our research to hear, see, and experience the essential value of diversity and the importance of dismantling systemic inequalities in order to create a just and fair world.

We ask that you join us as HGS promises to offer curricula and programs that contribute to an understanding of the lived experiences of Black people, Black scholarship, activism, arts and culture as well as systems of racism and segregation. Africa and the African diaspora have indelibly shaped world culture.  US history and culture would be unrecognizable without the continuing contributions of people from around the world — and from the Native peoples whose lands were taken to create this nation.

We are here to grapple with, question, and seek the truth. Our programs and courses demonstrate the value of diversity and can help students understand the roots and persistence of inequality in our society and around the world.  We recommit to our major and minor in Africana Studies and to exemplify scholarship and teaching in all of our academic programs that contribute to social change. We invite you to study and learn with us in courses such as The Black Power Years, African American History, and African American Literature, which explore the origins and impact of the Black Lives Matter movement, racism in the United States and around the world, and forms of Black resistance and community building in the United States.  Let all the truths be told — and heard.