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June 9, 2020

Mural depicting a portrait of George Floyd

Mural depicting a portrait of George Floyd

The Department of English at the University of Central Oklahoma deplores the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis, and it condemns the continuing, disproportionate, and frequently deadly physical, psychological, and socio-economic violence directed against Black people and People of Color across the country and in our own communities.

We support those who, through protest actions, call for change on the national, regional, and local levels in order to challenge—and, ultimately, to eliminate—the systemic racism, the unchecked abuse of institutional power, and the overt and covert discrimination that continue to make such tragedies not only possible but devastatingly frequent. We hear you. We stand with you. Black Lives Matter.

By sharing our skills and our resources, by reflecting critically on our teaching and community practices, and by challenging ourselves and our students to become agents of positive social change, we aspire to fulfill the challenge, articulated in the university’s mission statement, to contribute to the intellectual, cultural, economic, and social empowerment of marginalized and under-resourced communities.

The events of the past week have provided an occasion for thoughtful and painful reflection, informed by the insights and lived experiences of many members of our community, on our own institutional and departmental history and our failure, too often, to ensure a just, inclusive, equitable, antiracist, and empowering teaching, learning, and working environment for every member of our community. We commit ourselves to a process of meaningful growth and development that will enable all of our department’s students and faculty and staff to realize their full potential as creative, collaborative, and antiracist critical thinkers who seek and work for social justice.

In order to achieve this goal, our department is preparing to begin, in the fall semester of 2020, a year-long process of critical reflection, self-examination, strategic planning, and cultural change, focusing on inclusion, equity, diversity, and mutual support and empowerment. This process, supported by the College of Liberal Arts and the Division of Academic Affairs and informed by the work now taking place at the university level to develop a campus-wide inclusion and diversity strategic plan, will address every aspect of our shared work as a department and will take into account the aspirations, the personal and professional goals, and the lived experiences, both affirmative and traumatic, of the students, faculty, and staff who make up our departmental community.

This work will be challenging, and it will require careful listening in an environment in which every constituent’s voice, whether student, faculty, or staff, will be heard. The outcome of our shared effort, guided on an ongoing basis by expert facilitators from on and off campus, will only gradually become clear as all of us work together to build a vibrant, inclusive, responsive, and genuinely transformative academic community that uses antiracist teaching to resist and help to dismantle systemic racism.


Resource Websites


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