SCLA Statement on Anti-Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion

The Executive Committee of the Society for Comparative Literature and the Arts writes today to affirm that we unequivocally condemn police violence against unarmed Black and brown bodies. By the present statement, we also wish to express our support for social movements calling for greater racial equity and moreover justice for the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and many others.

From such instances of appalling injustice issue a series of impelling commands: that there be real political action to combat racial prejudice, that there be greater vigilance over law enforcement, that there be a categorical, unwavering commitment to the principle and truth that black lives matter.

Each member of the SCLA will, of course, assess the nature and extent of their own practical demonstration of such support. But as a collective organization, mindful of its own commitment to diversity, and highly aware that academia is hardly immune from the inequities we see in society at large, it behooves the SCLA to match words with deeds. The Executive Committee therefore earnestly hopes that you, the many members of the SCLA, will communicate proposals and ideas you feel might practically enhance the SCLA itself, and meaningfully assist you in your own endeavors, whether as academics, activists, or members of a given community. The Executive Committee moreover hopes that you will avail yourselves of the opportunity to take up leadership positions in the SCLA, and, in so doing, ensure that the organization implements its principles of inclusion and equal opportunity.

The concluding words of a statement such as this one should, by rights, belong to a human being who was cruelly deprived of enough breath to speak any words beyond the expression of his own suffocation. Nevertheless, the ethical command issuing from the circumstances of Mr. Floyd’s death remains compelling in its call. We hope members of the SCLA will assist the organization to hear, heed, do, and respond in appropriate ways. This statement, we realize, is a very modest beginning, and perhaps only words, just words. But may what is written here at least declare, in the strongest possible words, the SCLA’s support for all social movements committed to greater justice and the combatting of racism on all fronts.