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GNSD Statement on Racial Justice

January 31, 2021

The Department of German, Nordic, Slavic & Dutch joins the ongoing protest against racial inequality and injustice in the Twin Cities and nationwide, asserting that Black lives matter. We oppose racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, trans- and homophobia, misogyny, white supremacy and racist violence, and strive towards an inclusive department in which all feel respected, safe, and welcome.  

In recent months, many have voiced their condemnation of the police brutality that resulted in the murder of George Floyd and of countless other people of color locally and nationally. GNSD is committed to working to end racial injustice and white supremacy—both in the U.S. and in the countries and cultures we study, all of which have confronted and continue to confront the vestiges of colonialism and patriarchy as well as ongoing racism and xenophobia. We recognize that state violence and systemic racism continue to exert force on minority and marginalized groups globally and locally, and we are committed to critiquing and uncovering the hidden histories of those who have been invisible and erased. Finally, we assert that a foundational part of uncovering this history must begin by recognizing not only that the University of Minnesota—celebrated as a land grant institution—is situated on land that was taken from the Dakota people, but also that the layered history of indigenous peoples in Minnesota continues into the present. 

GNSD spans a range of geographical and national entities, each with their own particular histories of colonialism, fascism, authoritarianism, and racialized violence. Nonetheless, we come together united in our determination to combat racism in our classes, in our curriculum, and in our everyday lives. As teachers and scholars in the humanities, we call on all of us to engage vigorously with both the histories we study and the reality of our present world. We believe that our work cannot be separated from the imperative for social change, and that exploring other languages and cultures helps us gain a critical perspective on the world we inhabit here in the Twin Cities. 

Through this statement and going forward, we aim to create a more inclusive department, in which Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and other students with marginalized identities will be better mentored, supported, and provided opportunities in our fields and at the university at large. We recognize that structural inequality exists at every level, including in the daily interactions both in the classroom and at the university. We are dedicated to creating and sustaining anti-racist pedagogies and scholarship. We hope you will be able to participate in the workshops, lectures, and events we have scheduled over the course of the year. There is much work to be done.

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Many organizations in our respective fields, spanning German studies, Nordic studies, Slavic studies and Dutch, have written powerful statements condemning the murder of George Floyd and affirming their commitment to working to end racial injustice. We embrace and affirm the work of these partner organizations and their commitment to bridging the gap between activism and academic work. We urge you to explore the following websites:

A Campus Divided: Progressives, Anticommunists, Racism and Antisemitism at the University of Minnesota 1930-1942

Black German Heritage and Research Organization

GSA Black Diaspora Studies Interdisciplinary Network

H-Black-Europe

Black Central Europe Network

New Fascism Syllabus

German Studies Association

Coalition of Women in German

Diversity, Decolonization, and the German Curriculum

Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland (ISD)

Adefra

MLA

Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies

Association for Slavic, East European & Eurasian Studies

American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages (AATSEEL)