In solidarity with Black students, faculty, and staff, and in response to demands for Duke University to acknowledge the persistence of anti-black racism (on campus, in Durham, and globally), the Department of Religious Studies issues the following:
We, the faculty and staff of the Department of Religious Studies, affirm the world-wide protests, demonstrations, and activism in response to the atrocious police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. We are aware that the murder of George Floyd is emblematic of systemic anti-black violence and a broader culture that devalues black life; his death, like that of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tamir Rice, Treyvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Philandro Castile, Samuel Debose, Sandra Bland, Walter Scott, Terrence Crutcher, Sean Reed, Tony McDonald, and others, exemplifies how race and class work to exclude certain communities from being treated with dignity and fairness. As we mourn the routine hostility to Black life, we are also inspired by the people around the globe risking their lives and health to peacefully oppose State violence, racial injustice, and an administration averse to democratic gatherings and expressions of dissent. We stand firm with those putting their bodies on the line for justice and freedom. We take this opportunity to oppose all forms of racism, overt and covert, and we commit to reflecting on and improving our own everyday practices and institutional processes.
As a Department, we also reaffirm our commitment to asking critical questions of religious traditions within American and global landscapes by demanding accountability from our leaders and ourselves. We cannot remain silent while religious symbols – Bibles, monuments, and contested histories – are employed in an attempt to eliminate opposition, stifle speech, and justify State violence. Black Lives Matter, and they matter specifically to us. White supremacy and white hegemony are a threat to us all.