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UTK Geography Response to Capitol Hill

January 11, 2021

We are writing to condemn the attack on Capitol Hill and affirm our support for the democratic principles of free and fair elections. We also offer our unequivocal support for Black and Indigenous people, immigrants, the Black Lives Matter movement, Indigenous land and water protectors, and other people of color fighting oppression in the United States and around the world. In a week where democracy and foundational institutions in the U.S. are under attack, we must learn to talk to, question, and teach each other about how these same institutions can also uphold and extend racialized and colonial violence.

Over the past year, deep racial inequalities in the U.S. have been laid bare. The COVID-19 pandemic has been most severe in Black, Indigenous, and immigrant communities. The murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, and many other acts of police violence sparked uprisings across the world against state-sanctioned and extralegal anti-Black violence. An overwhelmingly white, armed mob attacked Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021 and were allowed to leave. The response to events on Capitol Hill stands in stark contrast to the brutal treatment of largely peaceful Black Lives Matter protestors at the hands of police just months earlier when more than 10,000 people were arrested across the country in the weeks following George Floyd’s killing, including hundreds in Washington D.C. These challenging, exhausting, and sorrowful months have brought renewed focus to systemic and everyday racisms and galvanized a new generation of activists and abolitionists fighting violence and dehumanization, and for a more just world.

Today, we are writing in particular to affirm our support for our Black, Indigenous, and immigrant colleagues, students, and community members, and citizens and migrants from places adversely affected by U.S. foreign policy, as well as organizers and protestors fighting white supremacy, racist violence, and all forms of racism. Education has a vital role to play in this moment and we must recommit ourselves to the work of transforming the discipline of Geography and higher education to cultivate spaces of learning that welcome, encourage, respect, and foster Black, Indigenous, and immigrant scholars, diverse forms of geographic inquiry, and diverse ways of knowing.

In solidarity,
UTK Geographers