Black Geographies Specialty Group’s Call for Transformative Racial Justice
September 8, 2020
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:
- Calling on universities and colleges to cut ties with police, following in the steps of the University of Minnesota and Minneapolis Public Schools;
- 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
BGSG Expression of Solidarity with BLM Movement
July 20, 2020
This statement denounces the way in which the white supremacy of police surveillance is persisted as always. The Black Geographies Specialist Group condemns the routine violence of police surveillance in the United States, where the number of people killed by police 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 government-sanctioned anti-Negrx and extrajudicial violence around the world. We express our investment in the resounding demands of the demonstrations across the country and on a global scale to divest from and demilitarize the police.
We are grateful for statements of solidarity from other specialized groups and the American Association of Geographers. We also urge our colleagues to act beyond their statements and work to transform the discipline and its legacies of racism, imperialism, colonialism, homophobia, and sexism. We must support our students and teachers who study and bring to light these structural problems both in their work and in their daily experiences. We must also support those in the struggle who resist these structures on the streets, drawing attention to the multiple forms of anti-Black violence enacted by the police state.
This moment has the potential to make a great transformative social change, and the discipline of geography must prepare to study the structures of racial capitalism, the landscapes of prisons, anti-Blackness and white supremacy in space studies around the world. Make sure that this type of abolitionist scholarship is easily accessible to those who need it most urgently: by being public scholars, removing paywalls from academic journals, and holding educational institutions accountable for the standards of success for social transformation. .
Meanwhile, we must draw attention to the various forms of violence that are produced and reproduced within the academy, from the epistemic violence of appropriating the theories of community activists without credit and the erasure of theories of Black Geographies from the lists of graduate-level reading and undergraduate programs, to the everyday racial microaggressions and overt racist harassment of Black scholars. Our colleagues must go beyond “getting in touch” and really begin to affirm and engage with Black Geographies and the scholars who produce this vital work. How to spell Aretina Hamilton:
It’s a heartbreaking project that few of my white colleagues will understand, even when they bemoan the injustices – a cognitive dissonance occurs. While I am distraught and heartbroken over the thousands upon thousands of Black and other bodies being brought down by the military-industrial complex, I find myself in an [existential] crisis considering the frequent violence that has been launched on Black, Indigenous and indigenous people. other people of color in academia, in graduate programs, and yes, in our professional organizations. Many times this violence is invisible and difficult to understand. It may not cause bloodshed or impede your physical mobility. There are no batons or angry policemen who fear fear with their knees to their necks. And yet it is palpable. We feel the pain. An incessant pain.
We ask our colleagues to support Black people in whatever way they can; for example, through mutual aid (see BGSG Mutual Help List) and citation practices (see BGSG Reading List). We also accept donations made to the Black Geographies Specialty Group, which will be used to fund student conference trips and other opportunities for young scholars working at the intersections of race, space, and power. We urge our colleagues to mobilize to transform our discipline and our institutions of higher education. This includes:
- Demand that universities and colleges cut ties with the police, following in the footsteps of the University of Minnesota and Minneapolis Public Schools;
- Increase recruitment and promotion of Black teachers;
- Create professional channels in which diversity postdoctoral positions are converted to full positions;
- Modify the ownership and promotion processes so that the tutoring and service work that is disproportionately requested of the faculty of color has greater weight;
- Prioritize reviews of manuscripts submitted by Black scholars;
- Dedicate funds to tutoring and support programs for Black undergraduate and graduate students.
Within and beyond academia, we must all recognize, honor, and continue the work of Negrx freedom fighters to build worlds of radical transformation and racial justice.
The Executive Committee of the Black Geography Specialties Group
* This translation was graciously edited by the LxGSG (the Latinx Geography Specialties Group)
Black Geographies Specialty Group Mutual Aid Resource List
April 22, 2020
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
Mutual Aid Resources
- What is Mutual Aid? (video)
- Comprehensive CORONAVIRUS RESOURCE KITS:
- Collective Care (video)
- Safety Practices for Mutual Aid Food & Supply Distribution (webzine)
- COVID-19 / At-Home Mental Health Resource List:
- COVID-19 Related Thoughts For Faculty:
- Useful Mutual-Aid Projects in Response to COVID-19 / Experience from Chinese Volunteers in Response to Coronavirus Crisis:
- Form Letter: A Neighborly Invitation Regarding Coronavirus
- CHICAGO-based organizers gathering a list of clergy members, death midwives / doulas, therapists, social workers, and healers who are here to offer some support by phone or video conferencing:
- NYC United Against Coronavirus Resource kit:
- Corona Couriers – a volunteer-run group of cyclists providing free-of-charge,
- Contact no-contact deliveries in all NYC boroughs by email or phone: at: 929.320.0660
- UNC / Chapel Hill area resources:
- Forum for those in Chapel Hill area with trade skills / services. Must apply for membership into this google group
- Food Not Bombs 919 : is accepting donations and offering drive up service, Saturdays from 4:30 – 5:30 at Night Light in Chapel Hill. Requests and donation offers can be via google form .
Music to get you through
A get-you-through playlist (please add your ideas):
- “Fall into my arms“, by Ngaiire
- “Wake up Everybody“, by Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes
- “Together Again”, by Janet Jackson
- “Lean On Me“, by Bill Withers
- “Turiya and Ramakrishna”, by Alice Coltrane
- “Love’s in Need of Love Today“, by Stevie Wonder
- “Come Ye Disconsolate“, by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway
- “A Place in the Sun“, by Stevie Wonder
- “Keep Ya Head Up“, by Tupac
- “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised“, by Gil Scott-Heron
- “Talkin ‘Bout A Revolution“, by Tracy Chapman
- “Redemption Song“, by Bob Marley
- “UMI Says”, by Mos Def
- “We Are The Ones“, by Sweet Honey In The Rock
- “Strength, Courage, and Wisdom“, by India Arie
- “Give Your Hands to Struggle”, by Bernice Johnson Reagon
- “Keep Your Eyes On The Prize“, by Robert Parris Moses
- “Rise Up“, by Andra Day
- “All We Got“, by Chance the Rapper
- “If I Can Help Somebody”, orig written by Alma Androzzo in 1945 / this rendition Cordova High School Choir (Memphis) 2018
- “Faith’s Hymn“, by Beautiful Chorus
- “Here Comes The Sun”, written by George Harrison, performed by Nina Simone