Clyde Woods Black Geographies Specialty Group Graduate Student Paper Award
Clyde Adrian Woods was a Baltimore native. Woods served as Associate Professor of Black Studies at UC Santa Barbara, where he also directed the University’s Center for Black Studies Research. His work explored centrality of racism to processes of economic development in the American South. Woods was committed to developing and sustaining questions about blackness and the politics of place with attention directed towards African American social organization alongside critiques of racial capitalism. Woods’ legacy, including and particularly his theoretical and empirical conceptualizations of “blues epistemology” and “blues ontology”, has provided a model for scholars, at all levels, to pursue strategies and ways of knowing that extend beyond easily accessible interpretations of space and society. Woods’ approach to geography, and his scholarship more broadly, has considered the absented presences – both voices and social structures –, which has significantly impacted our perspectives on race, scholar activism, and social justice.
The goal of the BGSG Graduate Student Paper Award is to honor the legacy of late scholar Dr. Clyde Woods by supporting graduate students whose work focuses on Black geographies. Woods invested his time in the intellectual life of Black studies and with Black scholars, particularly students. Woods was known for providing intellectual validity to students who were unable to divorce embodied and alternative knowledge systems from their scholarship. Instead, Woods mentored students towards scholarly interventions that deciphered new practices and social visions.
In the wake of Woods’ passing, his legacy has permeated a new generation of Black Geographies scholars. As with the students Woods mentored directly, this generation is working towards the transformation of scientific inquiry, resisting the exclusion of indigenous intellectual traditions of Black landscapes and geographic thought found in their projects.
Description: The Clyde Woods Black Geographies Graduate Student Paper Award is given to the best paper on a Black geographies topic written by an MA or PhD student, who is a BGSG member. One (1) award will be given each year.
The competition deadline is March 1, 2021, prior to the AAG Annual Meeting. Papers must be submitted in DOC format to the BGSG Vice Chair Willie J. Wright, at firstname.lastname@example.org with the email subject line “[Name] BGSG Graduate Student Paper 2021”.
The competition is open to all graduate students; however, a student may not receive a BGSG Graduate Student Paper Award more than once during their tenure as a student.
A paper submitted for this award may not be submitted to any other AAG-affiliated organization or specialty group awards.
Submissions must be original in content and research and cannot have been accepted for publication or be under review in any refereed or non-refereed journal or other publications.
Entries must be on a topic in Black Geographies. Of interest are presentations that provide a critical examination of contemporary Black spatialization, racialization of space, intersectional geographies (race, gender, class, sexuality), memory and counter spaces, and geographies of race and racism.
Entries must be research papers, and not complete theses or dissertations. Papers must not be longer than 9,500 words (including endnotes and references) and should be double spaced, with 12-point Times New Roman font and 1” margins.
Submissions will be judged foremost on their contributions to research in Black geographies. All papers will be evaluated by a committee of four BGSG executive board and committee members.
The results of the Graduate Student Paper Award competition will be announced to the winners just prior to the AAG Annual Meeting. The award will be formally announced at the BGSG Business Meeting, and the awardee’s name and paper title will be forwarded to the AAG for publication in the AAG Newsletter and to Antipode for publication on AntipodeFoundation.org.
The award winner will be invited to attend the annual AAG Awards Luncheon at the expense of the BGSG. Since the event is virtual, the group will cover the awardees cost of registration.
The winner will receive a $200 award and will work with Antipode’s Editorial Collective to prepare their paper for peer review and, if successful, publication as an open-access article in the journal, Antipode. Throughout this process, the author will receive mentorship from a senior scholar on the Antipode team.
In an effort to provide a supportive mechanism for graduate students as they tackle the dissertation process, the Black Geographies Specialty Group is launching a Graduate Writing Group. This is an opportunity to create an intellectual community where participants can network, collaborate, provide critical feedback, and grow professionally. The benefits of a writing group are numerous. A writing group: fosters peer mentoring, provides emotional support, develops personal accountability, bolters strong academic writing skills, and hones good communication skills.
Meetings will be held virtually at an agreed upon frequency. If interested, please fill out this form by February 19, 2021.
For your reference, more information on Writing Groups can be found HERE.
Kindly direct any questions, comments, or suggestions to Muriel Marseille at: email@example.com.
The map graphic on our website is meant to illustrate the global distribution of our membership. If you would like to be included, fill out this form by March 30, 2021. Please direct questions about the map to Muriel Marseille at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
AAG Black Geographies Specialty Group WINTER NEWSLETTER
Welcome Message from BGSG Chair, Camilla Hawthorne
Dear Black Geographies Community,
I would like to start by acknowledging and thanking Dr. LaToya Eaves, Founding Chair of the Black Geographies Specialty Group of the AAG, for her leadership, brilliance, and commitment to the intellectual and political project of Black Geographies. As the new Chair of BGSG, I hope to effectively continue stewarding the collective vision that Dr. Eaves has worked so tirelessly to advance. I feel very fortunate to be working alongside such a stellar, dedicated executive committee.
I remain inspired and galvanized by the scholarship and activism of the members of the Black Geographies community, especially during a year of such turmoil and loss. You have created mutual aid resources, organized syllabi and political education documents to contextualize Black liberation uprisings, wrote powerful calls for racial justice in geography, and continued to devise new ways to support undergraduate and graduate students during a global pandemic. A highlight of 2020 was our virtual BGSG general membership in September, when we were able to come together as a community to share resources related to teaching, research, and navigating the academic job market.
As always, the work that scholars of Black Geographies continue to undertake remains of vital importance to our world. Black Geographies provides us with unique, critical insights into the racist necropolitics of the COVID-19 pandemic, the entanglements of racial and spatial violence to which the most recent wave of Black Lives Matter demonstrations continue to intervene, and the historical antecedents of the January 2021 attempted white nationalist coup in Washington, D.C.
And yet, while our work remains urgent, I also want to acknowledge the extreme fatigue, exhaustion, and grief that we all face at this time. As generations of Black feminists have taught us, rest and care for self and community are also deeply important forms of political praxis, ones that also allow us to push back against capitalist and colonialist notions of productionism. As a beloved mentor once reminded me, “Take good care of yourself, because the revolution needs you.”
Black Geographies Specialty Group’s Call for Transformative Racial Justice
This statement is an indictment of the business as usual that has proceeded in the wake of persistent white supremacy through policing. The Black Geographies Specialty Group condemns the routine violence of policing in the United States, where the number of people killed by police continuously extends beyond 1,000 people each year. We mourn the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Nina Pop, James Scurlock, Tony McDade, David McAtee, Marielle Franco, and all other victims of anti-Black, government-sanctioned and extrajudicial violence throughout the world. We write to express our investment in the demands echoed in protests happening across the nation and on a global scale to defund and demilitarize the police.
We appreciate the statements of solidarity from other specialty groups and the American Association of Geographers. We also urge our colleagues to go beyond their statements and work to transform the discipline by addressing its legacies of racism, imperialism, colonialism, homophobia, and sexism. We must support our students and faculty who study these structural issues and call attention to them both in their work and in their everyday experiences. We must also support those in the struggle who are physically resisting these structures in the streets by calling attention to the many forms of anti-Black violence enacted by the police state.
This moment holds the potential for transformative social change, and the discipline of geography must prepare to engage with the structures of racial capitalism, carceral landscapes, anti-Blackness, and white supremacist policing in spatial studies across the world. We must continue to make this kind of abolitionist scholarship readily accessible to those who most urgently need it: by acting as public scholars, by removing journal paywalls, and by holding educational institutions accountable to the standards of success in social transformation.
In the interim, we must call attention to the many forms of violence that are produced and reproduced within the academy, from the epistemic violence of co-opting theory from community activists without due credit and erasing Black Geographies scholarship from graduate-level reading lists and undergraduate syllabi to the everyday microaggressions and overt racist harassment of Black scholars. Our colleagues must go beyond “checking in” and truly begin affirming and engaging with Black Geographies and the scholars who produce this vital work. As Aretina Hamilton writes:
It is a harrowing enterprise that few of my white colleagues will ever understand, even as they lament the injustices — it is clear that a cognitive dissonance occurs. While I am distraught and heartbroken by the thousands upon thousands of Black bodies and others who are being shot down by the military-industrial complex, I find myself experiencing an [existential] crisis as I consider the frequent violence that has been cast upon Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in the academy, in graduate school, and yes, in our professional organizations. This violence is often invisible and difficult to comprehend. It may not cause bloodshed or impede your physical mobility. There are no batons or angry, fear-mongering cops with knees on your neck. And yet it is palpable. We feel the pain. It never ceases. It remains contained in our bodies, violently thrashing.
We ask that our colleagues support Black people in whatever ways they can; for instance, through mutual aid (see the BGSG Mutual Aid List) and citational praxes (see the BGSG Reading List). We also accept donations made to the Black Geographies Specialty Group, which will be used to fund student conference travel and other opportunities for young scholars working at the intersections of race, space, and power. We urge our colleagues to mobilize for profound transformations of our discipline and our institutions of higher learning. This includes:
Systematically increasing hiring and promotion of Black faculty;
Creating pipelines that will convert diversity postdoctoral fellows into tenure-track faculty;
Modifying tenure and promotion decision-making so that the mentorship and service work that faculty of color are disproportionately asked to perform are weighted more heavily;
Prioritizing reviews of manuscripts submitted by Black scholars;
Dedicating funding to mentorship and support programs for Black undergraduates and graduate students.
Within and beyond the academy, we must all acknowledge, honor, and continue the work of Black freedom fighters in building worlds of radical transformation and racial justice.
The Black Geographies Specialty Group Executive Committee
MUTUAL AID/COVID-19 RESPONSE
Greetings to all in the BGSG Community:
We are enraged and shocked (hopefully, into action) as a result of the virus that is governing our lives, and the devastating and long-term effects it will have on the most precarious members of our communities. Over the last couple of weeks, there have been virtual dance parties, teach-ins, and webinars to nurture us and to prepare us for the time when we are able to step out into the world and within 6ft. of one another. We trust that we will take this period to engage in political education and to prepare for that future time and the challenges that await. In an attempt to be of service in this moment, the BGSG has created a list of various mutual aid efforts occurring across different topics and regions. A number of fundraising efforts have emerged, and some folk have taken to sewing masks for healthcare workers and others in need. If you know of someone sewing masks in your area, consider offering unused fabric. If you possess the skill, join them. That said, we encourage those on this listserv to add to this document any ongoing mutual aid efforts / initiatives – most included in this document include editable google documents that are updated in community, by community.
* WE ARE THINKING ABOUT YOU AND CARE ABOUT YOU *
Please let us know how we can support you and your community at this time.
Yours in Love and Solidarity,
The Black Geographies Specialty Group Executive Board
In an effort to provide a supportive mechanism for graduate students as they tackle the dissertation process, the Black Geographies Specialty Group is launching a Graduate Writing Group. This is an opportunity to create an intellectual community where participants can network, collaborate, provide critical feedback, and grow professionally. The benefits of a writing group are numerous:
Fosters peer mentoring
Provides emotional support
Develops personal accountability
Bolsters stronger academic writing skills
Hones good communication skills
Meetings will be held virtually at an agreed upon frequency.
If interested, email Muriel Marseille, with your name, subject of focus, and stage in the dissertation process, at: email@example.com by February 19, 2021.
For more information on Writing Groups, visit here.
2020 Clyde Woods Black Geographies Specialty Group Graduate Student Paper Award Winner
On behalf of the 2020 Clyde Woods Black Geographies Specialty Group Graduate Student Paper Award Committee, the Board is pleased to announce that this year’s winner is Kaily Heitz, with a paper titled “Unfolding the Frame: The Geographic Matter of Black Life, Image and Form.” Kaily is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley and a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow. In this promising work, the author argues that the imaginaries of Oakland as a Black space in the midst of advancing gentrification and displacement must be explored simultaneously as the commoditized form that facilitates development, and as a formulation of Black struggle and refusal. This essay looks specifically at the photographic image as a Black space through which Oakland is (re)produced in order to understand how circulated media images navigate contradicting claims to space, and the ambiguity between the identity and lived experience of a place.
Congratulations to Kaily Heitz from the Black Geographies Specialty Group Executive Board!
The goal of the BGSG Graduate Student Paper Award is to honor the legacy of late scholar Dr. Clyde Woods by supporting graduate students whose work focuses on Black geographies. Woods invested his time in the intellectual life of Black studies and with Black scholars, particularly students. Woods was known for providing intellectual validity to students who were unable to divorce embodied and alternative knowledge systems from their scholarship. Instead, Woods mentored students towards scholarly interventions that deciphered new practices and social visions. In the wake of Woods’ passing, his legacy has permeated a new generation of Black Geographies scholars. As with the students Woods mentored directly, this generation is working towards the transformation of scientific inquiry, resisting the exclusion of indigenous intellectual traditions of Black landscapes and geographic thought found in their projects. The award winner will work with Antipode’s Editorial Collective to prepare their paper for peer review and, if successful, publication as an open-access article in the journal Antipode (see our 2018 paper award winner’s article, “For ‘Peace, Quiet, and Respect’: Race, Policing and Land Grabbing on Chicago’s South Side.” by Teona Williams). Throughout this process, the author will receive mentorship from a senior scholar on the Antipode team. Antipode will also host a forum about the paper on the AntipodeFoundation.org platform, inviting two scholars to write responses.
The Black Geographies Specialty Group is now accepting submissions for the 2021 Clyde Woods Black Geographies Specialty Group Student Paper Award (human geography) and the new Student Paper Award for Physical Geographers. Stay Tuned to @blackgeogs on Twitter and our website at blackgeographies.org for more details. Submissions must be from members of the Black Geographies Speciality Group.
Congratulations to Dr. Jovan Scott Lewis from the Black Geographies Specialty Group Executive Board!
The Black Geographies Specialty Group Executive Board would like to congratulate former BGSG Vice-Chair Dr. Jovan Scott Lewis for being one of three recipients of the 2021 American Association of Geographers’ Diversity and Inclusion Awards!
“Dr. Jovan Lewis is assistant professor of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley, where he co-leads the Economic Disparities research cluster in Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute. Lewis’s efforts in research, teaching, mentorship, and service are bringing Black geographies (and Black geographers) to the forefront of the discipline, changing UC Berkeley Geography’s intellectual culture in emphasizing Black studies and Black geographies. He has worked across departments and programs on his campus and beyond, to engage public groups. Lewis integrates this work into his teaching and mentoring, through symposiums on campus and active recruitment of Black students to his program. Co-editor, with Dr. Camilla Hawthorne, of an influential volume, The Black Geographic, Lewis is also the author of Scammer’s Yard: The Crime of Black Repair in Jamaica. His forthcoming second book, Violent Utopia, examines the experience and articulation of Black sovereignty and freedom in Tulsa, Oklahoma, from the settlement of the Indian Territory through the centenary of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre.
Within the AAG, Lewis is a key leader leveraging and amplifying Black Geographies, helping to lead the Black Geographies Specialty Group, and successfully advocating for the inclusion of Black Geographies as a theme of the 2018 AAG Annual Meeting. Notably, Dr. Lewis is still only in the first decade of his career as a professor. His dedication to his students and to the larger community indicate a promising future of further leadership.
‘I am honored to be a recipient of the 2021 AAG Diversity and Inclusion award and I thank my friends and colleagues for nominating me and the award committee for selecting me. The AAG has long counted among its members individuals and groups devoted to equity and justice as both political and intellectual concerns. I have sought to continue in that tradition and to advance it alongside my brilliant colleagues in the Black Geographies Specialty Group and through Berkeley Black Geographies.’”
The BLACK GEOGRAPHIES SPECIALTY GROUP strives to create a global platform for: (a) promoting study of the social, political, cultural, economic, and ecological aspects of the race in/and geography; (b) encouraging critical reflection on the issues, processes, intrinsic qualities, and interconnections that shape Black lives and geographies on local, national, continental, and international scales; (c) exchanging research and teaching ideas among scholars of race in/and geography; and (d) building greater ties between geographers and the Black and Africana Studies community.
Membership is open to all members of the American Association of Geographers. You can become a member of the Black Geographies Specialty Group through the AAG Membership Portal:http://www.aag.org/cs/membership.
Annual Specialty Group Dues – $10.00
Annual Student Dues – $5.00
Connect with us on: @blackgeogs
BGSG in Practice: A Minneapolis Syllabus
With thanks to Dr. Adam Bledsoe , Assistant Professor of Geography at the University of Minnesota, for compiling and providing permission to share, this reading list on Black politics, space, and policing in Minneapolis is urgent reading for these times.
Minneapolis Uprising Syllabus
This bibliography is intended to offer background to how Minneapolis became a flashpoint for a global uprising against anti-Blackness and state violence. What follows is meant to be a brief introduction to understanding the struggles of the Twin Cities’ Black community, focusing especially on the case of Minneapolis. While this historic moment is only possible because of the dedication and courage of those risking their lives in the streets, studying the legacies of struggle in the Twin Cities is vital to grappling with our current conditions and being able to shape our future.
The first section offers background to the Minneapolis Police Department’s relationship to communities of color throughout the past century and a half.
The second section deals with the multi-faceted Black experience of the Twin Cities from the early 19 th century through the late 20 th century.
The third section is concerned with how the Black community of Minneapolis and Saint Paul has engaged in various forms of struggle over the past two centuries to combat the anti-Blackness and exclusion they faced.
The final section offers a snapshot of present-day Black Minneapolitan experiences, how local scholars and activists are thinking about these experiences, and some of the proposed means for addressing current forms of anti-Blackness.
By understanding the rich legacy of Black struggle in the Twin Cities, we can better understand the roots of what we are presently living through. Moreover, we can learn from the successes and setbacks of those that came before us as we struggle for the future we want to live in. This bibliography is meant as a small contribution to further study and, most importantly, to further concrete political action.
Hawthorne, C. (2019) “Dangerous Networks: Internet Regulations as Racial Border Control in Italy.” In digitalSTS: A Fieldguide, eds. Janet Vertesi and David Ribes, 178-197 (Princeton: Princeton University Press).
We are now accepting new submissions for our Black Geographies Specialty Group Reading List and Syllabi Repository! Submit your Black Geographies (peer reviewed and public writing/alternative mediums encouraged) work here!
For the BGSG Mentoring Initiative…..details TBA
For the upcoming BGSG Youtube channel….details TBA
Session announcements for the upcoming 2021 AAG annual conference…details TBA
Dear AAG Council, Executive Committee, and the broader AAG Membership,
We are writing to express our concerns about the AAG’s Internship Assistance Program, Diversity Task Force, and their engagement with/treatment of the chairs of ‘diversity’ specialty groups. We are writing this open letter with the aim of increasing the AAG’s transparency and accountability around their initiatives to promote ‘diversity’ and support students who are unevenly impacted by the impacts of COVID-19 budget cuts and, more broadly, bias and discrimination in the discipline. We encourage other specialty groups and all AAG members to honour their anti-racism statements and stand in solidarity with our call by signing in support of this statement.
Background and Context
On Monday, August 17th, the Government Relations Manager for the AAG, Michelle Kinzer, sent an email invitation to the Chairs of the Black Geographies Specialty Group, the Indigenous Peoples Specialty Group, the Latinx Geographies Specialty Group, the Disability Specialty group, and the Queer and Trans Geographies Specialty Group. We were asked to provide our availability between Wednesday, August 19th to Tuesday, August 25th to meet with Michelle Kinzer and Gary Langham, the Executive Director of the AAG, about the internship program that stemmed from the COVID-19 Rapid Response Task Force effort, and a new Diversity Task Force the Council is keen to set up. The meeting took place on Monday, August 24th and lasted for over an hour, rather than the 30 minutes for which it had been scheduled. On Tuesday, August 25th we were asked to put names forward to guide the AAG COVID-19 Rapid Relief Internship Program by the end of that week.
The internship program was described to us as being faculty-driven and would be tied to student interests in connection to our speciality groups. The AAG would announce the internship program in early September (they did on September 3rd) and the specialty groups were asked to help publicize the announcement and encourage applications. Faculty would be asked to identify internship opportunities and connect them to a specialty group. We were under the impression that volunteers from each specialty group would rank the applications to help determine which faculty were chosen. The faculty who were selected would then decide which student(s) could fulfil each internship position. Therefore, students would not be directly involved in shaping the internship, nor would the internship organization or specialty group chairs be involved in selecting the student.
The chairs left this meeting unclear about the implementation, logistics, and efficacy of the internship program. For example, when asked how the AAG would assess if an internship organization was unable to pay an intern because of a lack of funding resources due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and how the internship program would ensure that it benefits organizations that need this sort of assistance, it seemed that the AAG had not taken this into account, nor had they prioritized these factors. Additionally, we did not understand why the internships needed to be sought out by faculty, rather than have the program be student-driven. To have the internship program be student-driven would enable students who already hold existing relationships with organizations to apply for funds, rather than have faculty cast a wide net to identify organizations for potential students.
Finally, we later learned that the stipend for students is only $3,000, well below the national average for internship pay. In addition, students are expected to attend the annual AAG conference, but will only receive funding to cover virtual registration costs. If the goal of this program is to assist students who are financially struggling and typically do not have access to these sorts of opportunities, we believe they should be fairly paid and compensated fully for conference registration if attendance is expected. Additionally, if the objective of this program is to alleviate immediate needs during a pandemic, we wonder whether a mutual-aid fund would better serve student needs.
Diversity Task Force
For the Diversity Task Force, we were asked to consider our involvement as “volunteers,” which, like the internship program, was presented to us as an “opportunity.” The task force’s directive acknowledges “that as an organization we must do better in how we include diverse voices in our leadership and planning” and states that members “will be charged with setting Equity & Inclusion goals for the AAG over the next several years” (as per Michelle Kinzer’s invitation email on August 17th). This is despite the existence of an already active ‘Diversity and Inclusion Committee’, which was not mentioned during or after this meeting. Gary Langham also added that the AAG had hired a diversity consultant (whose name, identity, or experience has not been made public), but that as specialty group Chairs our cooperation would be paramount to ensure a mandate for the changes the AAG Council would approve.
We were not offered information about how the AAG’s diversity consultant was hired, or how they are situated within networks of power and privilege. Nor were we given the opportunity to meet with this consultant. As such, we have no sense of their expertise, the institutional influence they will have, their budget, or the extent to which they will work with us. This lack of transparency further opens up the possibility for ‘diverse’ specialty group Chairs to be asked to provide additional consultant work that would remain unaccounted, unpaid, and underappreciated with respect to the official ‘diversity’ consultant the AAG has hired.
In response to the request for our voluntary participation on the Diversity Task Force, we asked if the AAG could instead provide us with stipends for our involvement. As the work being requested of us does not fall under prescribed Chair duties, we felt that this labor could be compensated like any other task. A stipend would also recognize the additional time, energy, and labor that is being requested of marginalized scholars in early-career positions, during a pandemic, and at the start of online or hybrid academic terms. Requesting that Black, Indigenous, and Latinx geographers, geographers who live with disabilities, and LGBT2QIA+ geographers provide free labor to enhance the ‘diversity’ of the AAG only reinforces the notion that improving inclusion and representation in academic institutions is not ‘real’ or valuable work. Ultimately, the AAG’s lack of transparency and requests for unpaid labor leave unrecognized the ways in which our Black colleagues have been impacted by the current events taking place in the United States, and–more generally–they demonstrate inconsistent engagement with Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and disabled geographers within the AAG. The asymmetries in labor and compensation are starkly contrasted, as someone saw fit to hire a diversity consultant rather than compensate experts from within our ranks.
Following the Black Geographies Specialty Group’s Statement from June 2020, as well as the many additional statements of support circulated by other specialty groups, we question if the AAG’s process for addressing inequities in the discipline have considered the multiple layers of undue burden on marginalized scholars. How do these initiatives address the institutional racism and anti-Blackness that intersect with other systems of oppression? How does the AAG’s treatment of us, as ‘diverse’ specialty group Chairs, reflect whether or not they are listening to the systemic issues we have already identified that so urgently need to be addressed?
We are asking for transparency and accountability about how these programs were developed, and we refuse to participate in these programs until they align with the BGSG’s statement. As specialty group Chairs, we have not been provided with a clear indication as to whether our past suggestions have been taken up by the AAG; as such, we do not know if the contributions being requested of us now will be made into policy or have any traction on the future conduct of the AAG.
Therefore, as the ‘diverse’ Specialty Group Chairs identified by the AAG, we are calling for the AAG to respond with:
– A clear breakdown of the AAG’s process in developing the Diversity Task Force and ‘diversity’ initiatives, including minutes from relevant meetings;
– Clarity around who the ‘diversity consultant’ is and who populate the ‘Enhancing Diversity Committee’, and what recommendations or reports they have provided to the AAG;
– A follow-up on how the AAG is responding to the BGSG statement and other statements from June 2020 that interrogate the institutional culture of the AAG;
– A clear breakdown of the AAG’s process in developing the COVID-19 Rapid Response Task Force programs, including minutes from these meetings, to address the following questions:
– Why were the timelines to develop the COVID-19 Rapid Response subcommittee proposals and contact ‘diverse’ specialty groups so short?
– How and why were specific subcommittee proposals adapted, combined, or dismissed? Proposals were initially 34 and ended with 9 funded.
– How and why was the internship program decided upon and formulated?
– What are the final budget estimates per program?
– Who are the members of the Blue Ribbon Committee?
– Clarification on why the budget for the COVID-19 Rapid Response Task Force effort was initially stated as $8 million, and is now is $1 million;
– Clarification on why money is not being disbursed to undergraduate students in more direct ways, for example microgrants for those already working in their communities or aid without a work requirement;
– An explanation as to why AAG cannot directly fund NGOs to support student internships and other related programs;
– A more robust response from the AAG regarding recent changes that the NSF has made to the HEGS program. The announcement from NSF that “post-modern, post-structural, humanistic etc. [research], is not a good fit ” disproportionately impacts critical human 1 geographers from our speciality groups, as well as others across the discipline.
The AAG Executive Office recognizes that “it must do more to ensure that geography as a discipline becomes inclusive and equitable.” We ask that the AAG live up to its statements2 and begin by combating the power imbalances that are at work in the AAG at large. We understand that the current AAG leadership has inherited the institutional structure of the AAG, and that structural problems are difficult to solve in months or even within the term of office of the current leadership. We raise these concerns and questions to help the current AAG leadership align with the BGSG’s extremely pressing recommendations for progressive change in the AAG to mitigate the perpetuation and exacerbation of ongoing discrimination, bias, invisibilization, and exhaustion experienced by Black, Indigenous, and Latinx geographers, as well as disabled and LGBT2QIA+ geographers. We hope our letter is received in the spirit of improving networks of support for marginalized geographers and building structures of solidarity between the AAG Council, the AAG Executive Committee, and its ‘diverse’ specialty groups.
We look forward to hearing back from the AAG Council and Executive Committee regarding our statement by September 30, 2020.
We encourage other specialty groups to honor their anti-racism statements and stand in solidarity with our call. All AAG members are also welcomed to sign in support of this statement.
Julian Barr, Co-Chair, Queer and Trans Geographies Specialty Group
Diana Beljaars, Chair, Disability Specialty Group
Madelaine Cahuas, Co-Chair, Latinx Geographies Specialty Group
Camilla Hawthorne, Chair, Black Geographies Specialty Group
Magie Ramírez, Co-Chair, Latinx Geographies Specialty Group
Rae Rosenberg, Co-Chair, Queer and Trans Geographies Specialty Group
Deondre Smiles, Chair, Indigenous Peoples’ Specialty Group