The Program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) at Washington State University is in steadfast solidarity with all those who are protesting the state-sanctioned killings of Black lives in the U.S. and globally. Even at the time of drafting this statement, the incidents of violence against, and murders of Black people (including unhighlighted cases of Black women, Black trans people, and Black folks with disabilities) continue to rise. We join in protest to call for justice for the lives of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Layleen Polanco, Rayshad Brooks and all others, whose premature deaths are a direct consequence of white supremacy and a blatantly racist disregard for Black life by the police. We further call attention to Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s definition of racism as premature death and condemn it as unacceptable.
As scholars and educators in an intersectional field that focuses on historical and contemporary struggles for gender and racial justice, we understand the challenge to white supremacy as a fundamental part of feminist and queer scholarship, teaching, and activism. We therefore call for and commit to curricula that does not simply “add” black scholars, writers, activists, and artists in our classrooms but resolutely centers them. We commit to disrupting white supremacy in the classroom and to pressuring our university to commit resources to hiring and retaining a more diverse tenure-stream faculty and to investing in programs, departments, and schools that are doing this work.
In all moments, but especially now, it is crucial to state explicitly what we mean when we say that “Black Lives Matter” so that it is not an empty gesture of performative solidarity, but one that is substantive in scope. In this spirit, we seek to amplify the voices of Black-led coalitional organizations and Black feminists who are calling for the defunding and abolition of policing and the prison industrial complex. As Angela Davis has cautioned, we must refuse getting “trapped on a treadmill of reform” that has only continued and exacerbated systemic violence on Black bodies. Instead of investing in violent logics of policing and incarceration, we must build movements that invest in restorative justice, critical education, affordable housing, healthcare, and mutual aid. As educators we are committed to addressing this change in our classrooms.
For further readings on abolitionist politics that has its roots in black feminist thought, see:
Angela Davis, Abolition Democracy
Ruth Wilson Gilmore and James Kilgore, “The Case for Abolition”
Andrea J. Ritchie & Delores Jones-Brown, “Policing Race, Gender, and Sex: A Review of Law Enforcement Policies”
Richard Saenz, Kara Ingelhart, and Andrea J. Ritchie, A Report by the National LGBT/HIV Criminal Justice Working Group
The African American Policy Forum, #SayHerName: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women
Naomi Murakawa, The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America
Eric Stanley and Nat Smith, Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex
Black centered organizations for donations and bail out funds:
Black Trans groups: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/blacktrans-queer?tandembox=show
Bail funds: https://bailfunds.github.io/
Critical Resistance: http://criticalresistance.org/donate/ways-to-give/
Black Lives Matter: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019
National Bail Out: https://nationalbailout.org/about/