Black Lives Matter - Kent School Position Statement

November 3, 2021

Kent School Position Statement

History of Anti-Black Racism:  Beginning with their kidnapping from their homes on the African continent, Black Americans have faced a torrent of systemic and state-sponsored terrorism, violence, and exploitation. The two-thirds of Africans who survived the journey to the African coast and over the Atlantic Ocean, and their descendants, then endured 250 years of the dehumanizing horror of U.S. chattel slavery, during which they were forced to engage in grueling work for very long hours, prevented from forming families, banned from learning to read, malnourished, starved, tortured, and murdered. Since emancipation, Black Americans as a group have faced a continuous onslaught of psychological manipulation, false promises, and acts of gaslighting in which society has declared that barriers to racial justice were removed while simultaneously installing new forms of racism in U.S. systems.

Examples of this insidious structural racism include labor and penal "Black Codes" that allowed Black people to be arrested for such fabricated and subjective "offenses" as "managing money carelessly;" Jim Crow laws enforcing segregated schools and civic spaces that were promised to be equal but in reality forced Black Americans to receive substandard and low quality formal education, healthcare, food, and employment; codified residential segregation and racist credit systems that stole generations of wealth from Black Americans by making it legal for lenders to apply unusually severe terms for Black loan applicants, as well as appraisal processes that undervalue properties owned by Black home owners; economic racism, including disproportionately fewer employment opportunities near predominantly Black and minority residential areas than predominantly White areas, as well as well-documented hiring and wage racial discrimination; environmental racism, such that manufacturing companies target predominantly minority and low-income areas as sites for factories and limited enforcement of updated building codes resulting in higher pollutants and toxins in the air, water, and paint in the neighborhoods and homes in which Black Americans live; an unfair justice system that leaves arrest and sentencing decisions to individuals vulnerable to human bias resulting in gravely disproportionate rates of arrest and harsh sentences for Black Americans, including children; medical racism such that the pain and other physical symptoms of Black Americans are judged as less credible than those of White Americans, and physicians are less likely to prescribe best practices for Black patients compared to White patients; and, finally, the disproportionate murders of Black people by police officers such that unarmed Black people are killed at three times the rate of unarmed White people and police involved in killings are convicted in only 2% of cases.

Commitment:  The Kent School of Social Work honors the dignity, worth, humanity and value of All Black Americans, including men, women, non-binary and gender-expansive folks, those who are queer, those with disabilities, those who are undocumented, those who are religious minorities, and those with criminal records. We commit to working energetically and purposefully toward dismantling structural and interpersonal racism with attention to the various interlocking and reinforcing ways that societal systems additively oppress Black people.  We are grateful to the Black American scholars, artists, intellectuals, activists, and community organizers, throughout history and currently, who have served as guideposts, role-models, and educators as we continue to fight collectively for Black liberation and justice.  We will strive to promote anti-racism throughout our activities, including teaching, research, administration, service, and advocacy,  within our university, community, country, and world.



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