Political Science Statement on Anti-Black Violence and Police Brutality

Published: June 9, 2020

The racist murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Nina Pop, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Sean Reed, Marvin Booker shocked, horrified, and enraged us. And yet for the Black community, this is an unacceptably common experience. We express our condolences to the family of George Floyd and to all of the families who have lost loved ones in the plague of violence.

We find these state-sanctioned attacks to be an outrage, and as people of conscience, we are obligated to act in support of Black students and their communities.  In response to police-state violence that systematically, inequitably, and unjustly targets Black people, as well as centuries of anti-Blackness, our Department must listen to the voices of Black students and their allies and must commit to working toward a future where racism and anti-Blackness do not exist.


In advancing these goals, the Political Science faculty body is reaching out to our students—especially Black students and other students of color—to express our support in the wake of the recent murders of multiple Black persons at the hands of violent police, white vigilantes, and deplorable hate criminals. These horrific and senseless events showcase with crystal clarity the depravity of the United States’ racialized hierarchy and the awful toll that white supremacy exacts on Black people.

The Department condemns in strongest terms these individual acts of racialized violence and the systemic racism that continues to plague U.S. institutions.  

It is undeniable that the Black community has very different experiences in this country from white and non-Black communities. As scholars of political science, we have a duty to forcefully address the way that anti-Blackness infuses law enforcement and the legal, social, and political systems that have spawned these atrocities. We shoulder this duty individually and collectively. That duty includes ensuring that our department faculty is comprised of scholars – especially Black scholars – from communities that have been racially oppressed and excluded from our discipline, and from U.S society generally. It means recruiting, retaining, and graduating students most affected by these events. It means translating our concern and solidarity into action and articulating specific partnerships in the Black community to advance social and political change. 

As teachers and students, we are each obligated to think deeply about how our own ignorance, indifference, or oversight, as well as our well-intentioned but inadvertently harmful actions, play a role in sustaining and replicating the anti-Blackness that is endemic to our society. This personal and communal reflection can improve the relevance of our studies to the enduring crises facing Black peoples. 

All our faculty can and should be more mindful that their teaching and their syllabi are attentive to the endurance of white supremacy and how it can be challenged. Our Department is committed that our curriculum should explicitly address issues such as how today’s anti-Black violence is rooted in a long history of slavery, invader-state colonialism, and anti-Blackness. Our curriculum should include policy analyses of how to demilitarize the US police state and address socio-economic inequality and racism in housing, education, health care, and other sectors. We are committed to teaching the lessons from history and today about the ingredients of effective social mobilization. All our faculty are obliged to consider these commitments as they design and teach their courses.

Merely speaking or teaching about these matters in future classes is not enough.  We need also to act in more immediate ways. 

Our faculty are thankful for the inspiration and guidance regarding this statement of many activist students in our own Department who have come together under the name of the “The Collective,” and who have played a critical role in advancing anti-racism on campus and in our department. The Collective includes many Black students and students of color and has been an important source of leadership in our Department, including their role in prompting department action in response to current events, and providing feedback as Department faculty considered this statement and action steps to follow.

 Here are seven immediate actions our Department is committing to:

  1. The Department commits to guaranteeing a safe environment for Black people in its halls, classrooms, and events by working to understand, confront, and dismantle anti-Blackness in all its forms.
  2. The Department recognizes the insufficiency of its efforts to hire Black scholars onto the tenure track in our department, and we recognize the dearth of courses on Black politics and analysis of anti-Blackness in our curricula. We commit to active outreach for Black scholars, especially Black women and gender nonbinary persons, in all job searches with a goal of a candidate pool that includes at least 15% Black candidates, as well as other candidates of color. We further establish the goal that at least one of the hires for our two current tenure-track faculty vacancies should be Black.
  3. The department commits to regularly offering at least one Black politics course taught by faculty with relevant experience and expertise in the Black community, beginning with our Spring 2021 course offerings. We will petition the Center for Faculty Development to provide training for faculty to integrate literature and material about anti-Blackness, Black studies, and people of color within and across disciplines.
  4. Effective immediately, we will make $6000 available to a Students of Color Task Force. The funds will support student leaders in our department in direct-action campaigns, educational events, legal support, or community outreach work.
  5. The Department commits to identifying one or more faculty members to serve as an advertised departmental resource for any student of color facing violence in their classrooms, on campus, or in the community.  We will work to ensure that other campus units (the Campus CARE Team, the Office of Equity) are aware of the role of these faculty members within the Department. These faculty members should be identified and advertised to students early in the fall 2020 semester. Through the fall semester 2020, the Department also commits to meeting with Black students and students of color to explore additional strategies to institutionalize departmental anti-racism resources and strategies.
  6. Department faculty commit to advertising and participating in Social Justice teach-ins hosted by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which are scheduled to start on June 12th. Department faculty will be present at the June 12th teach-in which will concentrate on anti-Black violence.
  7. The Department commits to playing a lead role in organizing, advertising, and participating in in-person departmental teach-ins on these subjects (in likely partnership with other campus units), within the first six weeks of students returning to campus, where student voices will be centered. Topics will include the Black Lives Matter call for defunding the police, the decriminalization of college campuses, and the historical and current manifestations of anti-Blackness in relation to anti-indigeneity in the United States and around the world.

Through these actions and those to come, we will stand in solidarity with our Black students, faculty, staff, and alumni, and with the larger Black community in our city and country. We remember George Floyd and many others who were murdered by police. We oppose systemic racism and racist acts of violence against people of color. We support the Black community and efforts to fight racism in all forms, as well as those who advocate for meaningful social change promoting equity globally, nationally, locally, and at CU Denver.