COVID, INEQUALITIES,

VIOLENCE & SOCIAL CHANGE

Times of crisis offer opportunities to create change. The global pandemic has brought to the fore pre-existing social inequalities along economic, racial, ethnic, gender, sexual, age, abilities and other intersecting lines.  Countries around the world have witnessed crudely what sociologists, anthropologists and other social scientists and humanists have been pointing to as critical issues for decades, if not centuries. Thus, it is our responsibility to take action and push for the social changes we have for so long been trying to generate. The manifestation of unsustainable inequalities brought mobilizations as well. People across the world started to voice their demands to reform unequal systems and organize collectively to push for action at the governmental level. In the United States, the disproportionate negative effect that the pandemic had on African American and other communities of color screamed loudly at the persistent inequities that could bear no more. The killing of George Floyd by the police was the tragic event that made a broader coalition of people get out to the streets to say Never Again, joining the #BLackLivesMatter, #SayHerName and other Anti-Racist social movements, which for years have been denouncing police brutality against African Americans and people of color after the murders of people like Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Stephon Clark, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, and unfortunately, many, many others (Know Their Names).  The pandemic also brought up to the surface the persistence of gender violence as well as the crude mechanism by which capitalism systematically exploits the poorest and deems marginalized communities disposable.   

As an Activist Scholar, I am involved in collective efforts to demand and create social change for equality and justice.

I believe that:  

  • BlackLivesMatter

  • No matter our background, identity or position within national and international social hierarchies, we are all human and ought to be respected with dignity  

  • Health rights and human rights - Universal healthcare should be implemented  

  • Racism is unacceptable in any way or form 

  • Our aspirations should not be limited to the mere absence of racism, but we must instead commit to active anti-racism

  • Anti-racism requires recognition and dismantling of white privilege along with White Supremacy, acknowledgement of racial harm, and concrete anti-racist action in personal and systemic contexts

  • Police brutality against Black and Brown Lives as well as any Minoritized and Marginalized Lives must end  

  • Gender violence is not to be tolerated and proactive measures must be taken to prevent and restore gender violence survivors  

  • Bystander silence is violence and perpetuates racial, ethnic, gender, class and other systems and practices of oppression  

  • Inequality regimes and systems of power are all-encompassing and therefore, we must must reflect on where we stand and how we make use of the power we have  

  • Politicians and government officials must be held accountable  

  • Participants in social movements must be protected from police and state violence 

  • Peaceful collective action and restorative justice are more conducive to eliminate violence and oppression  

  • Complexities are to be recognized to be able to form constructive and durable coalitions along various social constructs  

  • Essentialism should be overcome to build bridges across groups and communities and gather strength against power elites  

  • A global and intersectional understanding of the political economy of social inequalities is crucial to foster good strategies for social change  

  • Individual and collective agency, people’s power to do otherwise is key to dismantle oppressions as our lives are not structurally predetermined but socially constructed 

 

Also, as a Professor and Chairperson, I understand that the educational system, academia, teaching and research are part and parcel of the very systems of inequality we are trying to dismantle. Therefore, I am committed to reflect and revise our curriculum, syllabi, pedagogies and research to decolonize their content.  For this, in my Department, we have held a series of workshops to think through these issues and renew our academic labor to ensure that we are not recreating inequalities and injustices.  

 

For the 2020-2021 academic year, we hosted four events in our series "Dismantling Inequalities in Times of Crisis" and developed a new website including resources on Covid-19 & Inequalities, White Supremacy & Antiracism, and Police Brutality, as well as our position statement.  Moreover, we launched a new E-Zine called Ideas | Action | Justice where students from our various programs could publish their work in multiple formats, and a Student Blog about the E-Zine and the Events held at the university.  Visit www.sjuezine.com and send your feedback!