A Message for COMM Students, Faculty and Staff
#RacismAtTAMUFeelsLike. Reading these stories of systemic racism experienced by A&M students, faculty and staff reinforces the need for collective, systematic and focused action to achieve racial justice for Black people, Indigenous people and People of Color. This is a pivotal moment.
By Kevin Barge and Hart Blanton
Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. George Floyd. Their deaths are only the most recent and visible examples of how systemic racism denies Black people’s humanity and their very lives.
#RacismAtTAMUFeelsLike. We read these stories of racism by A&M students, faculty and staff and feel anger and sadness. They clearly show how much work needs to be done if we are to achieve racial justice. They show how we have failed to listen deeply to the experiences of Black people, Indigenous people and People of Color.
As head and incoming head of the Department of Communication, we stand in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and an end to systemic racism. We recognize that we enter this struggle from positions of privilege. Therefore, we make this commitment with humility, an eagerness to learn, an openness to blunt critique, and the will to make meaningful change.
We are inspired by the words of our colleague, Robin Means Coleman, vice president and associate provost for diversity, who reminds us that we need to “supplant sentiments of ‘thoughts and prayers’ with tangible policy changes and action.” We agree. At this pivotal moment, we need collective, systematic and focused action. The responsibility and labor for ending systemic racism and working toward social justice is the responsibility of everyone. The work does not simply rest on students, faculty and staff who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color. As leaders, we need to be held accountable. As members of our community, we need to be accountable to each other.
In the weeks ahead, we will work with the department’s Climate and Inclusion Committee to hear the voices of members in our community and develop a design prioritizing anti-racism action for the upcoming year. Faculty and students have already begun sharing resources with one another regarding ways to combat racism and create more inclusive environments.
Systemic racism has hurt members of this department and affected their lives. We encourage all members of our departmental community to engage in the important work of creating a place where all our students, faculty and staff are valued, respected and thrive.
Kevin Barge, Head
Hart Blanton, Incoming Head (effective September 1, 2020)