Along with our colleagues in Black Studies, we in the Anthropology and Sociology Department wish to express our strong support for #BlackLivesMatter. The thoughtfulness, courage, and shared commitment to issues of racial justice that resulted in the events of Black Lives Matter Awareness Week should be applauded, not disparaged, and the aspiration of the campaign’s organizers to enhance self-reflection among the campus community regarding racism and police violence should be embraced as a model of what enlightened citizenship can look like here.
Our support of #BlackLivesMatter recognizes, too, the gap that persists at Amherst between a diversity promised and a diversity delivered. The reaction of some to the affirmative message of #BlackLivesMatter reminds us once again that students of color–and black students, in particular–continue to experience racism on campus and must deal, on a daily basis, with obstacles put in the path of their pursuit of academic excellence at the College. Along with President Martin, we in Anthropology and Sociology “look forward to investing in a concerted, respectful, and educational campus conversation” regarding race and, like her, we hope that one outcome of such conversation would be “greater recognition of the specific challenges that students of color face on campus.” We also think that conversation, while important, is only one step in a process that must result in ongoing and well-funded institutional initiatives regarding race on campus, similar to what has resulted from the College’s response to recent controversies over sexual assault. Our hope is that with institutional support, the aspirations of #BlackLivesMatter and campaigns like it will play a crucial role in helping the College deliver on its promise of equal opportunity for all.