Department of Linguistics Statement on the BLM Movement

The Department of Linguistics at the University of Arizona stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the Black community in the city of Tucson, the state of Arizona, and across the United States.

The murder of George Floyd by several Minneapolis police officers, following the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Philando Castille, Eric Garner, and so many others, has again made clear that state-sponsored violence against Black people is a constant of American history from its founding and continues to today. Moreover, it takes place against a backdrop of wider systemic violence and discrimination against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. We must acknowledge that the field of Linguistics and academia more widely are part of this system, and so have been shaped by systemic anti-Blackness.

Recognizing this, in the coming year, the Department of Linguistics will specifically prioritize the following actions to reflect our solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and minority communities in Tucson and beyond.

  • Increase representation of BIPOC faculty, staff, and administrators. In the short term, the department commits to increasing the representation of BIPOC speakers in our colloquium series. In the medium term, we work to bring prospective BIPOC faculty to campus in all ways possible, and work towards a hire.
  • Listen to students of color in the department on what diversity means to them, not the university. Responses will be centered in an annual diversity report. Going forward, the previous 5 years of reports will be consulted in preparation of the annual report to measure progress.
  • Re-evaluate curriculum at the graduate and undergraduate level (especially in the introductory sequence) to include scholars of color in the reading list, to eliminate loaded vocabulary like “Standard English”, and to include more sociolinguistics, especially sociolinguistic scholarship on race and language.
  • Scale up anti-racist resources in TA training. Students will learn how to foster an inclusive environment in their own courses, as well as how to respond if students or faculty do or say something that creates a non-inclusive environment.
  • Provide a faculty training to mirror what students receive in TA training.
  • Work, in our capacity as linguists, to highlight and condemn linguistic discrimination as part of broader systemic racism.
  • Feature in our departmental re-opening planning and actions the prominence in our community of students/employees and their families from communities that are disproportionately suffering from the impact of COVID-19.
  • Agitate at the College and University level to increase equity in pay and job security insofar as they disproportionately affect people of color in the most precarious positions of employment (e.g., lower-wage staff, faculty and staff serving departments that serve students of color, etc.)

In closing, we want to recognize that freedom of speech and freedom of expression are central values of this university and colleges and universities more widely. We stand firmly by the protesters and their right to protest, and call on all law enforcement agencies to refuse to participate in acts of repression against protesters. Furthermore, we roundly condemn the mobilization of the military and unidentifiable paramilitary forces against Black Lives Matter and the wider protest movement. It is antithetical to life in a free and democratic society, and we insist that it end.