Statement in Support of Black Lives in the United States of America

June 1, 2020

The Humboldt University Senate Executive Committee endorses the statements in support of Black Lives released by the Humboldt College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (CAHSS), many of our academic departments and their affiliated professional associations listed therein, and the Humboldt Associated Students.

Each expresses solidarity with a global movement demanding an end to white supremacy and state-sanctioned violence against and murder of the Black community. We join global protests in response to these horrific events.

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The officer pinned him down by the neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds, while he called out for help and stated that he could not breathe. Three other police officers on the scene did not intervene.

This event is not an isolated incident of anti-black violence; rather, it is linked to the American sociopolitical context that maintains systemic discrimination, and institutionalized racism and violence. This murder follows multiple and repeated incidents of racial violence targeting Black people, including the police killing of Breonna Taylor in her own Kentucky home; the white vigilante killing of Ahmaud Arbery while jogging in a Brunswick, Georgia, neighborhood; and the police killing of Tony McDade in Tallahassee, Florida. Here in Humboldt, we have witnessed this injustice firsthand in the 2017 murder of Humboldt student, David Josiah Lawson. The murderer remains free.

U.S. protesters use their First Amendment rights to hold individuals and institutions accountable for the murders of and violence against its Black communities. Peaceful protesters have been the targets of violence. Law enforcement has used clubs, tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber and metal bullets against protestors causing psychological terror, physical injury, permanent disability, and death.

The current President of the United States promotes white supremacy and state-sanctioned violence against protestors and Black communities, manipulating narratives and policy, and deploying financial and political capital. He actively advocates for increased violence in the name of law enforcement, using the U.S. military to threaten those peacefully protesting racial violence and police brutality.

We acknowledge that Cal Poly Humboldt, as part of the United States public education system that was never designed for Black, Indigenous, or other People of Color (BIPOC), is implicated in perpetuating racism and injustice. We condemn all forms of violence against Black people including physical, psychological, emotional, financial, and educational.

Through our leadership power and policy-making privileges, and in coalition with Black students, staff, and administrators, we commit to lead campus and community discourse and action in:

  • Setting a University Senate academic-year agenda that prioritizes Black lives;
  • Interrogating existing and proposed campus policies and practices through an anti-racist lens;
  • Engaging campus police in discussion and action on anti-racist policies and practices that value and save Black lives;
  • Fostering a public forum that protects freedom of expression and centers the experiences of Black and other marginalized communities;
  • Holding ourselves accountable for campus commitments to hire tenure-line faculty of color and to train all faculty to eliminate anti-Black classroom practices, while expanding our capacities for inclusive pedagogy and expanding anti-racist curriculum;
  • Mentoring BIPOC students, staff, and faculty in running for Senate and other shared governance offices;
  • Creating a campus where Black students, colleagues, and community members can thrive.

There can never be social justice without racial justice.

#BlackLivesmatter #DefendBlackLives #JusticeForJosiah

To identify individual and collective pathways for anti-racist social action in support of Black lives, see suggestions from the Humboldt Departments of Critical Race, Gender & Sexuality Studies, and Native American Studies statements linked above.