A Word on #BlackLivesMatter

June 8, 2020

A Word on #BlackLivesMatter

Department and university logo

4. June 2020


The Department of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies stands in solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter, #SayHerName, #blacktranslivesmatter, and all activists and mobilizations working to abolish state violence and to dismantle white supremacy.  We are outraged over the ongoing terror enacted on Black people and their bodies through state-sanctioned murder, racist violence, sexual violence, and gender violence.

We say their names.

Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Jamar Clark, Philando Castile, Michelle Shirley, and hundreds more. We remind ourselves and hold special vigilance for those killed by police forces in Ohio: John Crawford, Tyre King, Tamir Rice, Malissa Williams, Dontae Martin, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, and far too many more. We grieve and honor the unnamed and unknown.

To our Black students, Indigenous students, immigrant students and students of color: we know the anguish and embodied toll of living in an oppressive society. We support you, we are here for you, and we stand with you.  We want you to know we hold you in our hearts and minds as we protest, grieve, struggle, and demand change.

WGSS believes that all Black Lives Matter, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status, or location.  

Our department is grounded in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) feminist and queer scholarship and activism. Our mission is to eliminate the anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, and anti-queerness that scaffold colonial and misogynist systems of power.  

Today, we call for action to dismantle insidious systems of injustice, policing, deportation, and mass incarceration that perpetuate white supremacy and heteropatriarchy across this nation.  We support coalitions and mobilizations working to end oppression in our communities, and in the neighborhoods, schools, homes, prisons, detention centers, and border regions where violent injustice and killing receive state support and state amnesty. We demand actions to divest, defund, and abolish the structures that perpetuate anti-Blackness and criminalize the poor.

At Ohio State University, which is also our university, the members of the department:

  • Support Ohio State students calling for OSU to divest from the Columbus Police Department [Lantern Article and Statement]
  • Call on President Drake and the Board of Trustees to Ban the Box now. We stand for public higher education that allows all people to participate and contribute, regardless of their felony and misdemeanor convictions.
  • Appeal to President Drake and the Board of Trustees to follow the inspiring call of Rev. Scott Hagan, President of North Central University in Minneapolis, for all universities to create a George Floyd scholarship for Black students. [News Article]
  • Demand that the OSU Police demilitarize immediately. All military equipment must be decommissioned
  • Dismantle and replace OSU Police with collaborative, community alternatives: defund and abolish. 
  • Divest OSU funds from corporations that profit from mass incarceration and the over-policing of Black lives. These include CoreCivic and G4S. 
  • Prohibit faculty and staff from product development as well as lobbying and consultation efforts as OSU employees in police, detention, surveillance, and incarceration industries.
  • Ask faculty, staff, and administrators to reformulate their teaching, learning, service, and research practices directly in relation to fighting racism, and its sexist, ableist, homophobic, anti-immigrant, and transphobic manifestations.  
  • Call on faculty, staff, and administrators to consider this #BlackLivesMatter global uprising as a world-changing event that must inform the university response to COVID-19.  We call on the university to commit funding in research and teaching to combat the systemic racism, which must be conceptualized intersectionally, that has been declared a public health crisis.  

As a department, we commit to offer a series of virtual teach-ins by Autumn semester for university communities to utilize in student orientations, courses, staff training, and coalitional activism. We welcome collaborations from students, alumni, community members, and staff, as we work to end anti-Blackness and its manifold effects at OSU and in our central Ohio communities.  Please contact our department to work with us to forge a decolonial OSU that raises the voices and experiences of oppressed people. 

Our university must enact social justice and no longer merely gesture toward its possibilities. Join us in action.