When George Floyd was killed by police in broad daylight, with bystanders pleading
for his life with four officers, America finally acknowledged that it has for far
too long permitted violent deaths of Black men and women at the hands of police. Since
then, we have witnessed an overwhelming response by people across the country calling
for an end to deeply rooted racism and violence directed at Black people. Together
with the College of Humanities and the University of Utah, the Department of Linguistics
community commits to being part of meaningful and lasting change to combat bigotry,
racism, and white supremacy. This commitment begins with reflecting individually and
collectively on our own behaviors and practices that might help perpetuate systemic
inequities and injustices.
In his book, How to be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi asks for a fundamental societal shift from the mask of “not racist” neutrality to confronting racial inequities as an “antiracist.” As linguists, we are particularly sensitive to the profound role that language plays in societal change. More than ever, we have a responsibility to call out and correct discriminatory and racist language ideologies and to point out that statements such as 'All Lives Matter' disparage the pain experienced by Black members of our society.
As linguistics educators, we will act on this responsibility in our classrooms by engaging with students in thoughtful conversations about race and racism, by carefully listening to their perspectives, and working with them to create an antiracist department community. Doing so will require that we, as a department, honestly identify inadequacies, problems, and needed changes.
Click here for the Department of LInguistics antiracism plan of action and accountability, developed by the department leadership, faculty, and staff.