Our Anti-Racist Commitments

dear english students and Alumni,

As a department, we recognize that faculty and students of color have long navigated a racist system built upon and maintained by rhetorical and physical violence against their populations and upheld today by white silence. Discussing race and our country’s racist legacy has long been a matter of survival for some citizens, and a voluntary choice for others. To ensure transformative justice, white folks can no longer choose to ignore how we/they are implicated in the oppression and silencing of our/their fellow community members.  Assuming a collective “we” can flatten existing power relationships, but in this case, we have collective work to do.

Committing to anti-racism on a rhetorical level is an important starting point, but we believe there are specific anti-racist strategies we might employ at the departmental level to begin dismantling the system itself. Discussions are underway across the department to determine how we can make change collectively and concretely. This work is ongoing. These are the commitments we have come up with so far: 

  • We commit to offering a high percentage of readings by BIPOC and gender diverse authors. Working towards parity in our syllabi will amplify the voices of the oppressed, while also encouraging a relational and intersectional understanding of how BIPOC, gender diverse people, and white people navigate—and thus interpret—the world differently because of existing power relationships.
  • Over this summer we will open up conversation through a regularly occurring anti-racist email Drawing from our various research lenses, individual faculty members will illuminate and interrogate specific components of systemic racism we’ve thought a lot about, while including something for you to read, listen to, or view on the topics of structural racism and state violence. Current students: please check your MCLA emails regularly. If you are alumni, please email Office Manager Stacy Gagne at stacy.gagne@mcla.edu to be included on the email digest.
  • We acknowledge that institutions of higher learning are often underscored by the very social inequities that they often seek to study and transform. We commit to evaluating and assessing how our department serves the mission of public education by engaging in individual and collective teaching practices that best uphold the communities that we serve.
  • Most importantly, we promise to listen. We encourage you to reach out with any ideas for ways we can stand together as a department.

In solidarity, your professors,

Caren Beilin 

Mike Birch 

Amber Engelson 

Zack Finch 

David Langston, Emeritus 

Victoria Papa  

Jenna Sciuto 

J. Antonio Templanza

Darren Johnson

Anne Zepernick