Statement on Dismantling Systemic and Anti-Black Racism in the Department of Communication

We, the members of the Department of Communication community, express our solidarity with the global protests against anti-Black racism. We stand with protestors worldwide fighting white supremacy and calling for the change needed to fully recognize that Black Lives Matter, and to recognize, appreciate, value, and celebrate the contributions of Black scholars, artists, and community members. From slavery to social security, to the housing act and redlining, to the GI Bill and the war on drugs, all of these things play out in opportunities or lack thereof and created the racial wealth gap and multiple systems of oppression against Black people. The events of 2020, including the killings by police of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Black and Brown communities, are only recent evidence of the deep-seated racism that exists in individuals, in structures, and in systems in our society.

We recognize that this system of racism intersects with discrimination along other axes as well to produce a multitude of experiences of discrimination and resistance, including prejudice based on class, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, age, and abilities. We, therefore, offer this statement of commitment to dismantling systemic racism, and in particular anti-Black racism, to augment our existing Statement Against Racism, Hate, & Xenophobia (2017).

Our mission in Communication is to pursue research, teaching, and service rooted in an understanding of communication as the primary process through which persons, societies, and cultures are formed and change. As members of a department/academic community historically committed to critical scholarship that addresses these issues, we must seize this moment to examine structures of racial privilege within ourselves, our community, our department, our university, and our discipline.

We believe that equity for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) people extends to institutions and relationships, both formal or informal, from interpersonal to organizational, and across cultural contexts. We endeavor to recognize, minimize, and redress harms we might cause based on our institutional and individual histories of privilege and bias.

We strive to study and teach about communication from a place of cultural knowledge of ourselves and others. We pledge action as educators, scholars, artists, media makers, and citizens to work toward that change. We recognize that this is an ongoing process at individual, departmental, institutional, disciplinary, and societal levels. We believe that when we act in solidarity with BIPOC, we all do better.

At the departmental level, we are committed to a process of reexamination, decolonization, and dismantling of systematic racism where it arises in our departmental:

1. Student admissions, teaching, and mentorship
2. Faculty and staff hiring, support, and development
3. Research streams and programs
4. Service to our institution and discipline.

These commitments help structure our related plan of actions in each domain. The Department Community, Climate, and Social Justice Committee, in coordination with the faculty and other governance bodies of the Department of Communication, will maintain an agenda for action in each of these areas, aimed at the transformation of institutional practices and with the goal of building an inclusive, equitable and diverse department.

(Updated 2020)


Statement Against Racism, Hate, and Xenophobia

The Department of Communication publicly and collectively affirms our dedication to creating and sustaining an environment that ensures the safety and respect every person deserves. We condemn racism, hate, and xenophobia in any shape or form, and reaffirm our long-standing commitment to understanding and confronting all forms of oppression both at UMass and globally. We recognize that acts on campus and in the nation, tell us that discrimination is far from over and requires scholarly analysis and redress. The faculty, graduate students, and staff of the Department of Communication affirm their commitment to dialogue, inclusion, and equity regarding all aspects of human difference including race, class, gender, age, religion, ability, sexual orientation, and/or nationality.

(Updated 2017)