Dear Colleagues: We are now in the seventh day of a nationwide uprising sparked by the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, and the disproportionate toll of the Novel Coronavirus on Black, Indigenous and Latinx people.
Centuries of pent-up rage and unheard demands for racial justice have led the nation to a place where everyday people are marching in the streets night after night. Meanwhile the President of the United States threatens to use military might against the citizens of our nation practicing their constitutional right to protest.
As sociologists, activists, and radicals we have probably spent more time than most studying the broad forms of state violence and systemic white racism affecting our people. For many of us in the Association for Humanist Sociology (AHS) this uprising is not surprising. In fact, it was inevitable. However, politicians, corporate media and its pundits feign they cannot understand why protesters are not just asking nicely—or worse yet, why they are openly pushing for conflict in order to drive up their viewer rates. They steadfastly refuse to acknowledge how neoliberal racial capitalism induces poverty, anguish, and the daily harassment and violence imposed on black people.
Given that many of us are directly affected by the wealthy few’s callous disregard for our humanity, it is safe to say that the combined effects of the pandemic, ongoing racist harassment and abuses, and continuing police violence are taking a heavy toll on many members of our organization. Some members of our association have been re-traumatized by the media constant video looping of police violence.
In figuring out what to do and how best to make sense of this moment, we as an organization want to create opportunities for the members and nonmembers to connect with one another to share resources and thoughts about organizing and surviving the current crisis, James Thomas (University of Mississippi), AHS program chair, is organizing a webinar to take place in July. The exact date and time of the session is forthcoming.
As a humanist association, we reaffirm our commit to propelling social change through our research, teaching, and action. We seek to work in partnership with local social and economic justice organization. We also strive to help lead in helping higher education and the United States as a whole become social agents for people-centered structural, institutional, cultural, economic and political change. Prison and police abolition is crucial. Yet, we know that the change we seek is impossible as long as society and politicians promote massive structural inequalities and violence. Such conditions engender the kind of brutality and impunity we are witnessing and experiencing throughout the country and world. We are committed to eliminating these problems at their structural root.
While doing this important work, I hope we all be able to lean on and support each other to the extent possible, and to keep in mind that perhaps what we are going through now is the birth of the beloved community that we have long strived to create.
A luta continua, Johnny E. Williams President Association for Humanist Sociology