In light of the police brutality against Black people in the United States, which has become newly visible over the last days, but which is actually linked to a centuries-long history of structural racism against People of Color, we feel compelled to take a stance as a network of American Studies scholars based in Germany, whose research, amongst other things, engages with the suppression of Black knowledges regarding their systematic oppression and the ascent of the Alt-Right, which helped carry a right-wing populist into the United States’ highest political office.
On behalf of the network “The Failure of Knowledge – Knowledges of Failure,” the network coordinators endorse the position statement of the Diversity Roundtable of the German Association for American Studies, which is shared below. Those seeking to contribute towards a future in which Black lives truly do matter, both in the U.S. and in Germany, where People of Color likewise face institutional racism and a discriminatory criminal justice system, may consider donating to the following organizations:
- The U.S.-based “Defend Educate Empower” fund of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
- The Germany-based Kampagne für Opfer rassistischer Polizeigewalt
Position Statement of the Diversity Roundtable of the German Association for American Studies:
“We, the speakers of the Diversity Roundtable of the German Association for American Studies, want to take this moment to publicly condemn the recent wave of white supremacist violence and the ongoing systemic racism in the United States as well as in Germany. We want to express our condolences to the victims’ loved ones, and to affirm our support for liberation movements such as Black Lives Matter, at home and abroad.by Diversity Roundtable of the German Association for American Studies
Scholars like Patricia Hill Collins remind us of the necessity to always speak out against racist violence. Its pervasiveness can be overwhelming and produce silence by which such violence, in turn, can become neglected, invisible, and implicitly legitimated over time in hegemonic discourse (Hill Collins, “It’s All in the Family: Intersections of Race, Gender, and Nation” 66).
At the same time, we heed Sara Ahmed’s warning that mere declarations of anti-racist commitment and solidarity are not necessarily performative speech acts that translate into concrete actions or effects in and beyond our research and institutional lives (Ahmed, “Declarations of Whiteness”). What opportunities for individual and collective anti-racist action does this moment of global protest present? We urge you to consider actions such as donating to organizations that are actively combatting anti-Black violence in the United States and in Germany. We are also grateful to receive your ideas on further modes of support and public intervention that we can undertake as members of the Diversity Roundtable and the larger German Association for American Studies.
As academics from a wide range of scholarly traditions within American Studies, we have versatile capacities to unearth intersecting oppressive structures such as sexism, racism, ableism, and anti-queerness. We would like to encourage one another to acknowledge that there are many ways to oppose anti-Blackness.”