SPPT Diversity Statement
Guided by the values of inclusion, respect, equality, and equity, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies is committed to create a safe and welcoming environment for all students, faculty and staff, fomenting a deep and complex understanding of the heterogeneous cultures we research and teach. From the deep political and social changes across the Americas to the ever growing percentage of U.S. citizens of Portuguese or Hispanic heritage in the United States, we strive to create an environment in which the uniqueness of each person is recognized and celebrated, and where everyone is treated with respect: such an inclusive campus climate is essential to the well-being and success of a diverse community.
We understand diversity as a free expression of non-hierarchical differences in terms of race, gender, religion, class, sexuality and ethnicity. Such a diverse community brings to campus different backgrounds, perspectives, cultures, abilities, and languages.
Our department embraces multicultural education pedagogies and research, and believes that the study and teaching of different cultures is crucial in the strengthening of democratic practices. We value dialogues that build bridges and promote understanding of, and between, different cultures and groups. As a department and individually, we are committed to continuing to learn about pedagogies that promote racial and social justice and that attempt to dismantle racism, heteronormativity, sexism, classism, homo- and transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, and the persisting residues of colonial violence.
We acknowledge that the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities is located on traditional, ancestral, and contemporary lands of Indigenous people, and are committed to ongoing efforts to recognize and advocate for American Indian Nations and peoples. In addition, we honor and support immigrants, regardless of their origin and status, and join with grass root movements and multiracial coalitions that have been built to resist violations against our civil and human rights. We denounce and condemn racist acts and violence, and believe in the crucial role that higher education institutions have in the strengthening of democratic practices and the fight against systemic racism.
During the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic, we were shown the impact that inequalities in our society continue to have on Black, Native American, and Latinx communities. In May, we all became witnesses to the brutal murder of George Floyd, a horrific crime that infuriated us all.
In the statement about the killing of George Floyd, The Black Midwest Initiative states:
The death of 46-year-old George Floyd is the latest and most urgent example of the stark disconnect so many black people and communities have to the Midwestern ideal that is alleged to characterize the Twin Cities and other Midwestern locales. The death of George Floyd follows in the wake of the deaths of thirty-two-year-old Philando Castile and twenty-four-year-old Jamar Clark, unarmed black men who were both shot to death by police officers in separate incidents in the Twin Cities area within the past five years.
This crime was not an isolated act of violence but the expression of systemic violence in the United States, the Americas, and the world. George Floyd’s murder exposed the urgent need for change and transformation to a more democratic society, focusing on fighting against systemic racism on many different fronts.