Statement from Department of Romance Studies on Recent Events

By: Department of Romance Studies, 
Fri, 06/05/2020

The Department of Romance Studies stands in solidarity with black, indigenous, brown, all people of color and their allies as they continue the fight for social justice and equity in our communities. We call for an end to state violence in the United States. We condemn all acts of racism, discrimination, and violence.

Racism’s roots in the United States run as deep as its foundation, and its overt and systemic effects not only continue to reverberate through society, they continue to take lives with sickening regularity, while oppressing and limiting the lives and dreams of millions of people living in the U.S. To witness the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others, at a time when their communities have already borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, on top of navigating the repressive waters of American racism for generations, threatens to leave us dangerously without words.

Romance Studies’ heart lies in our commitment to helping students develop not only language skills, but also in our awareness and understanding of a language’s myriad accompanying cultures and interconnected lived experiences. Every day, in our classrooms, we see how shifts in language learning can create shifts in perspective, and how this makes possible new ways of understanding, being and acting in the world. These shifts, as they happen, are often small, but they are palpable. They are empowering. They often resonate for the course of a lifetime.

This is because these small shifts in perspective often lead to action.

All of us must now turn toward the learning practice of antiracism, to encourage empowerment and action by learning more deeply about our shared history and taking action to work toward our shared future. Many of us have been doing this work for years. For others, this will be a new, difficult, and humbling experience.  Either way, this work must be done. Angela Davis reminds us that ’radical’ is not about extremity; “’radical’ simply means ‘grasping things at the root.’”

We root ourselves in the ongoing practice of antiracism. With conviction and compassion, we are committed to facilitating shifts in perspective not only in the classroom, but also in our native languages in our own homes and communities. What we do as teachers and what we learn from our students has an important influence in the way we transform words into actions and seek change. We recognize our role and ally ourselves not only with those actively seeking justice and equity, but also with those who desire to learn how to collaborate in this ongoing struggle.

This path requires both dedication and tenacity. The Department of Romance Studies has long devoted itself to research, campus and community engagement, educational programming and overseas study opportunities that unite individuals and cultures, that speak truth to power, and that open avenues of resistance. We will continue to do so.

This is a time to listen, but not a time for silence – there is a difference.  

In solidarity.

Klarman Hall at sunset