Africana Studies

Department of Africana Studies Statement of Support: Black Lives Matter!

The Department of Africana Studies at California State University, Northridge, stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, and demand that action be taken, so our community and city can work to dismantle the structures of racism that have threatened Black lives and wellbeing since this nation was first established. We condemn police brutality and the insidious murders of Black men and women. There are many police who operate as the enforcement wing of the system of white supremacy, a system that we must work to dismantle every day. We condemn racism and oppression in all its manifestations, including homophobia and transphobia. The terrorism of white supremacy and white privilege continues to compromise the health and safety of Black Americans and African people across the globe. The systematic assault on Black lives in America and in the world is an injustice that will not be tolerated and must be rooted out from the psyche and fabric of America.

In the past few weeks, the senseless and tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Tony McDade have served as vivid reminders of the continued reality of racism and social injustice faced by Black people every day in our society. We are deeply saddened and troubled as we continue to attempt to comprehend the depth, hurt, and pain being felt by those throughout our city and nation. We have all been navigating an emotional road of sadness, rage, confusion, and uncertainty at a time of enormous economic devastation and a severe health crisis. Most recently, our challenges have been related to the COVID-19 Pandemic, and now it’s confronting the Pandemic of Systemic Racism that represents a generational oppression and divestment of Black and Brown people in this city and country.

Members of the Black community oftentimes carry the fear of hopelessness --- an old wound torn open again by the horrifying auto-repeat, playlist of viral violence in our country that seemingly will not cease. The explosive anger and sense of hopelessness and frustration has been brewing. Outrage and anger is not a new response to police brutality and murder…We’ve been here before…in the fight for voting rights, civil rights, and equal rights. We are weary of the repeated instances of injustice and police terror. The level of anger in these protests and unrest is not just about one case of police violence, it’s about a long history of white supremacy inflicted on the Black community. It’s not about an isolated moment, but a milestone on a continuum of injustice and struggle.

We push back against the narratives that frame civil protestors as looters and reject any narrative that values property over Black lives. James Baldwin reminds us that to be Black and conscious in America is to live in a constant state of rage. Through protest, we have harnessed that legitimate fury to demand and enforce justice in a society that denies minoritized communities basic human rights. In Barack Obama’s message to the nation, he shares with us that, “The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable; in fact, throughout  American history, it’s often only been in response to protests and civil disobedience that the political system has even paid attention to marginalized communities.” These are deeply rooted issues embedded in our history, that will not be resolved in the days and months to come. We challenge those who attempt to justify, dismiss, ignore or explain away mistreatment of Blacks or any other person of color.

The Department of Africana Studies emerged from protests and civil unrest propelled by the demands of Black student activism in 1968 and 1969. We continue to critically challenge institutional racism and systems of oppression, and aim to empower the current and next generations to be change agents in the world, conscious of systematic racial structures, and emboldened with the knowledge and skills to transform their communities and the global world.

As the journey continues, we are seeking a commitment to move forward with purpose and intention. We are at the crossroads of an awakening all across the world as we grapple with the constant barrage of hate incidents. We must continue to think and respond in the highest order for the betterment of our humanity. We need to interrogate our institutional practices that uphold white supremacy and invest time and resources into combating anti-Blackness. We have to examine, fix and heal from the myriad ways in which many have been complicit in perpetuating anti-Blackness and racialized violence. We need to identify ways to help our community and strengthen knowledge on contemporary race relations and the history of Black social, political and economic rights in the United States. We simply have to do better!

We want to wholeheartedly acknowledge the support of our colleagues and comrades from Chicana/o Studies, Asian American Studies, Deaf Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, Central American Studies, Queer Studies and Civil Discourse and Social Change (CDSC). We stand with our colleagues in the ongoing battle to justify and validate the importance we all make to diversity and inclusive excellence on CSUN’s campus.

We send healing energies to uplift the Black community in particular, and the global community in general, as we suffer vicarious trauma, watching our people constantly murdered and brutalized by the police, who have a historical connection to fugitive “slave” catchers. We affirm and celebrate the power of the youth and the beauty of their struggle. We are because of you!

We stand in solidarity of the Black Lives Matter movement as we work collectively to ensure justice, equity, and liberation for all Black and Brown lives. We are with you!  May the spirit of our African ancestors surround and protect you as you speak truth to power! Our future is beautiful because of you. The struggle continues!


Africana Studies Faculty
California State University, Northridge
June 2020