In the wake of the egregious and brutal killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade, only the most recent of unjust killings of Black people, we are grieved and outraged. We, the executive board and committee members of the Feminist Geography Specialty Group (FGSG), affirm Black Lives and the need for immediate and transformative change in our institutions, our discipline, our social systems and structures that subject Black lives to premature death. We condemn anti-Black racism, heteropatriarchy, anti-trans violence, policing, and white supremacy.
It is not a coincidence that brave and historic actions against policing and white supremacy are taking place amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Histories and ongoing practices of segregation and disinvestment in communities of color and racism in employment and hiring practices have made for dangerous and precarious working conditions. The pandemic lays bare the deadly consequences of racial capitalism that persistently place Black and Brown communities in harm’s way. The impacts of structural violence, institutional violence, and police violence are at once reprehensible and preventable.
FGSG acknowledges and continues to grapple with its own history within the discipline of geography, dominated by practices that reproduce oppressive structures and white supremacy. We recognize that the expertise and knowledge of Black scholars and scholars of color have long been, and continue to be, excluded and marginalized not only within geography but within feminist geography. We acknowledge that Black scholars make important contributions to geographic scholarship and push the discipline in not only anti-racist directions, but simultaneously advance geographic knowledge in anti-colonial and critically feminist ways.
The ground has shifted and continues to shift. As we move forward, it is imperative to do the work of ending the academy’s role in deadly systems of racial capitalism and heteropatriarchy. This moment of crisis is already being used to restructure our places of work and learning in ways that we fear will deepen an already unequal landscape of higher education. Austerity is another manifestation of state and capitalist violence that directly affects the possibilities for particularly working-class BIPOC to attend college and grad school. We know from the recent and immediate past that administrators cut Ethnic and Black Studies and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. These are attacks on critical scholarship on racism, colonialism, heteropatriarchy, and imaginations for futures that might be otherwise. The fight against such cuts is in alignment with broader efforts to shift resources from policing to life-affirming goods like community-controlled schools, affordable housing, affirming health care, free child care, and more.
We write this statement in solidarity with our Black colleagues, with organizers, and with abolitionists in demanding justice and working to end institutional racism, state violence, and everyday manifestations of white supremacy in the United States and the world. This commitment does not end with this statement, but is part of a long history and future of struggles in all areas of our work lives and our communities.
–The Board and committee members of FGSG