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Statement from the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies

The members of the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies support the unequivocal declaration that Black lives matter. We stand with social movements whose aim is to combat racial injustice and anti-Blackness globally, nationally, and especially in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. We share the outrage at the recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Louisville resident David McAtee, former University of Kentucky student Breonna Taylor, and the many more Black people killed by police, law enforcement, and vigilantes.

We also acknowledge that this moment of outrage is a necessary response not only to recent events but to long-standing, deeply entrenched injustices. As the faculty of the University of Kentucky’s Program in African American and Africana Studies (AAAS) state, “the current uprising is not only about police brutality, but the entire system of oppression and privilege that frames life in the United States.”

This system of oppression and privilege frames our work as researchers, educators, and higher education professionals. We believe that our research and educational practices should serve Black scholars, students, and the broader communities in which we reside. In committing to equitable and just scholarship and to supporting the success of our students, we must contend with the systemic white supremacist forces that shape our lives. We recognize that these forces accord privilege and access to some, whereas they oppress, alienate, and impose violence on others. We understand the historical inequities surrounding both scholarship and education, including the abuse of scholarship and the denial of educational access to create or exacerbate racial and other inequities. As a department, we are committed to unlearning white supremacy, learning and implementing anti-racist pedagogy, and discussing ways in which we can be more accountable to our Black students, colleagues, and community members.

We affirm and amplify the statements of solidarity and anti-racist work of our colleagues here at the University of Kentucky, including African American and Africana Studies, the Interdisciplinary Program in Jewish Studies, the Department of Sociology, and the College of Arts and Sciences. Additionally, we join leading organizations in the field of Rhetoric and Composition, including the Rhetoric Society of America, the NCTE/CCCC Black Caucus, the Association for Teachers of Technical Writing, and the Association for Rhetoric of Science, Technology, and Medicine to affirm the necessity of anti-racist action in this moment. With these colleagues and organizations, we unequivocally condemn anti-Blackness in our community, in the academy, and in the classroom.