NAVSA Statement

Against Systemic Racism  

In light of the murder of George Floyd by members of the Minneapolis Police Department and other recent and on-going incidents of violence against members of BIPOC [black, Indigenous and people of color] communities, NAVSA is reaffirming its unequivocal abhorrence of and opposition to racism, and discrimination in all its forms. We are committed to addressing systemic racism wherever it may be found, including within our own community. We underscore the fact that, as an organization, we have zero tolerance for racist language or actions. We call attention to our policies as they relate to racist and other forms of discriminatory behaviors and attitudes as set out in our Code of Conduct: https://www.navsa.org/code-of-conduct/

The Victorian period, like our own, is inescapably marked by colonialism, imperialism, and the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade. The period saw the promulgation of ideas premised on notions of racial superiority and racial discrimination, and the commission of serious acts of violence based on those ideas. Whilst the nineteenth century also witnessed determined opposition to practices of slavery, lynching, and other forms of injustice, exploitation, and cruelty, we are acutely aware of the explicit and implicit presence of racist thought in much of the period’s culture.

We support research and teaching that makes visible and puts into question the racist beliefs, assumptions and attitudes of the long nineteenth century, as doing so will better help us to understand their legacies in our own time, including their impact on the study of the Victorian period. We anticipate that doing so will also help us engage, in our classes and on the page, with issues of inclusivity, equality, and justice.

NAVSA members are encouraged to reflect on how we may increase the diversity in our discipline and in our organization, and think, in concrete and strategic ways, about how we might build alliances with the movements working against racial injustice in our institutions, communities, and beyond. We deeply value the work that colleagues have already undertaken in bringing a historical perspective to the racial injustices of our own time, and pledge to build on these insights and carry them into the future. We recognize, in this respect, the urgent connections to be made between scholarship, pedagogy and our daily lives when it comes to creating a more just, peaceable, and equitable world.

NAVSA is a signatory to the MLA statement condemning systemic racism: https://www.mla.org/About-Us/Governance/Executive-Council/Executive-Council-Actions/2020/MLA-Statement-Deploring-Systemic-Racism?utm_campaign=advocacyalertjune20&utm_medium=email&utm_source=mlaoutreach