|Department of Africana Studies
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook University Africana Studies Department Statement Re: the Murder of George Floyd, June 3, 2020
The Stony Brook University Department of Africana Studies stands in solidarity with all around the globe who are fighting against the epidemic of state violence against African American and Black people in the United States.
The cry "Black Lives Matter!” has become a powerful language of affirmation and resistance; affirmation of the vital importance of African American and African Diaspora life in the United States and resistance to the state-sanctioned violence that Black folk have been subjected to within this territory. We join with those in our nation and around the world, who, in mourning George Floyd’s public lynching at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, say Black Lives Matter!
When we say Black Lives Matter! in the year 2020, in the United States, we acknowledge the deep and unbroken history of lynching that connects the brutal murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, to the impunity of Breonna Taylor’s murderers in Kentucky, to Ahmaud Arbery running for his life in Georgia, to Michael Brown’s body lying on the pavement in Missouri, to Sandra Bland’s disappearance in Texas, to Eric Garner’s words ‘I can’t breathe,” to Emmett Till’s body in an open casket in 1955.
When we say Black Lives Matter! we insist that the list of Black men, women and children, maimed, murdered, disappeared, and traumatized by the state is painfully and intolerably long. When we say Black Lives Matter! we insist that the physical and psychological violence directed at Black people in the United States does not originate in the hearts and minds of a few hateful individuals. It is deeply embedded in institutions and persists because it is sanctioned by the highest office in our land, preached in many of our schools, justified by the media and reflected in the structures of public life.
When we say Black Lives Matter, in Eastern Long Island, we acknowledge that morbid anti-Blackness is not only a problem in Minneapolis, Georgia, or Kentucky, but plagues us almost every day and everywhere – in communities throughout Suffolk and Nassau County and even at Stony Brook University. We recognize that Long Island remains one of the most segregated and unequal communities in the nation and acknowledge that Stony Brook University, as the flagship public university and hospital in the region, has a role to play in addressing the violence of our local status quo.
We assert that every institution has a role to play in divesting from white supremacist violence, in all its forms. As one of the oldest Africana Studies departments in the nation we have a particularly heavy duty in this hour. At this time we call for 1) a recognition of the historical antecedents and legacies that precede our current moment, 2) support for policies and practices that address the violence of systemic racism in our own local institutions and 3) a renewed commitment from colleagues, students, and staff across the university to utilize our considerable collective and individual resources to address the persistence of morbid anti-Blackness in our communities and nation at large.
The Faculty and Staff of the Africana Studies Department
Important Resources about Race and Racism