English Department Statement on Racial Injustice

Created: June 10, 2020
Last Updated: June 17, 2020

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Dear friends of the English department,

We would like to join President Knapp in acknowledging and standing against the racial injustice in American society, history, and culture that assaults African American bodies and psyches. We especially want to tell our Black students, colleagues, and friends that we stand with you and offer any support we can.

Not surprisingly, in times of crisis, we turn to books. We do so, not because we want to escape, but because we know that literature fosters empathy for characters and communities unfamiliar, perhaps unknown, to us; that literature teaches us about historical injustices that too often go missing in our national historical narratives; and that literature helps us imagine a more just, equitable, and inhabitable world.

In the coming days, we’ll be sharing thoughts about some Black voices that are essential to American culture and that have taught us about race, injustice, and survival. We hope they offer you support and insight.

We begin with Martin Luther King’s magnificent Letter from a Birmingham Jail, addressed to “moderates” who objected that his actions sometimes occasioned violence. It has much to say to us today: https://www.africa.upenn.edu/Article…/Letter_Birmingham.html

We invite you to share your responses and your own required reading with us as well. Please see the W&J English Facebook page to hear from our faculty members.

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