ExtrACTION & Environment - Statement against racism and action steps

We are deeply saddened and disturbed by the losses of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, and the deaths of so many others due to racism and/or police brutality. These deaths are in addition to the continued weaponization of whiteness, as exemplified when white people call the police on Black people engaging in everyday activities. The ExtrACTION & Environment TIG condemns police brutality and racism and supports Black Lives Matter and related movements. 

There have been many statements about solidarity among anthropologists (and elsewhere). We must be sure that these statements go beyond performative allyship. The Association for Black Anthropologists calls on us to act and actively combat systemic racism in our profession and daily lives. We must be held accountable. This statement will focus on action steps we can take to actively create solidarity and racial justice, and on measures of accountability. As the Risk & Disaster TIG of SfAA so aptly put it in their statement on race: “being anthropologists does not automatically make us allies or non/anti-racist people.”

As anthropologists, practitioners, and activists who study ExtrACTION & Environment, we know that not only are the lives of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people disproportionately affected by police violence, they are also exploited, put at risk, or destroyed through extractive practices and environmental injustices, related to for instance processes of neoliberal capitalism. It is our duty to use the awareness, knowledge, and tools of anthropology to combat racism in all its forms.

As BIPOC voices have made painfully clear in the past few weeks, institutions of (higher) education are also riddled with systemic racism that needs to be dismantled. We must examine and fight this structural racism in our institutions and departments as well. Anthropology as a discipline was founded in racism and we must decolonize our own discipline and our scholarship as part of this effort. 

All these efforts should be global and must be intersectional and inclusive. 

Action steps:

  • Listen to and amplify BIPOC voices
  • Acknowledge that it is the responsibility of those who have benefited from structural privileges to work alongside those who have not to dismantle racism in our society
  • Actively work to recruit, retain, and collaborate with diverse students, scholars, and practitioners in all our initiatives and leadership
  • Develop radically inclusive strategies for promoting equality and diverse voices in classrooms, departments, projects, panels, dialogs, committees, and publications
  • Practice proactive accomplice-ship with students and colleagues
  • Listen to, read, cite, and teach more diverse students, scholars, and practitioners
  • Make our curriculum and syllabi more inclusive and diverse
  • Actively work to see that textbooks accurately portray the history of this country and its peoples
  • Mentor and support more diverse student work
  • Conduct, distribute, and teach decolonized ethical research
  • Share and develop tools to deconstruct internalized and systemic racism and enhance anti-racist skills (and use ourawareness of context, nuance, and different lived realities of people in different parts of the world, where race and institutionalized racism may be constructed, acted out, and experienced differently)
  • Protest, highlight, and work to dismantle structural violence and systemic racism, and the exploitation of BIPOC bodies across the world.
  • Speak up and speak out against inequality, and
  • Work with our partners in academia and various sectors to support the training and work of diverse students, scholars, activists, and practitioners.
  • Make our TIG more inclusive and diverse, and
  • Continuously work together in our TIG and beyond to expand efforts toward solidarity, equality, and justice.

This is an evolving document. We recognize that different people will have different views and different ways of working.We hope that you will join us in fully engaging our anthropological awareness, knowledge, and tools to support and expand upon these efforts. True solidarity and change comes from our actions not our words.

The above is inspired by and founded on the words and ideas of:

Association for Black Anthropologists
Risk & Disaster TIG (particularly Mei Johnson, Noémie Gonzalez Bautista, Thomas Hanson, A.J. Faas, and Jennifer Trivedi)
Raja Swamy
Shukti Chaudhuri-Brill

©Society for Applied Anthropology 

P.O. Box 2436 • Oklahoma City, OK 73101 • 405.843.5113 • info@appliedanthro.org