September 23, 2020
We, as members of the department of Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, believe that Black Lives Matter. We declare our support for those speaking up against racism in general and against police brutality, in particular. We mourn the senseless deaths of Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Joel Acevedo, and far too many others to list here, as well as the brutal shooting of Jacob Blake; and we denounce the further violence that has been perpetrated against those protesting these senseless events. We recognize and condemn the history of racism that has led to these events.
As teachers and scholars in the field of communication, we believe that the words and symbols we use—both personally and publicly—shape the reality in which we live. Words and symbols have the power both to maintain and to dismantle systems of oppression. It is our job to show students and the larger community how this works and how we as a society can use this power for good. However, we acknowledge that our past and present failures in living up to these standards have caused harm and injustice. Therefore, we re-commit to examining how our words and actions as a department have supported rather than undermined racist systems and to using words and practices that are actively anti–racist by working toward:
- Developing a plan to improve upon the racial diversity of our students and faculty by not just recruiting more students and faculty of color but also retaining them through efforts to (a)identify and dismantle institutionally racist practices that impede their success and (b) create a more inclusive and equitable climate.
- Learning about, promoting, and implementingbest practices around anti–racist and inclusive pedagogy in our teaching, advising, and mentoring at all levels.
- Calling upon each instructor within our department to review their graduate and undergraduate syllabias appropriateto ensure that work by Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) is substantively engaged.
- Examiningour annual evaluation and review processes to create an opportunity for individuals to reflect on their anti–racist efforts and contributions to the university’s mission of access and vision for equity.
As concrete steps are taken towards realizing these commitments, the department commits to reviewing its progress and revising this statement accordingly at the start of every academic year so that this statement may not be a one-time issuance but the start of an ongoing conversation.