Shared Association for Slavic, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) Statement Condemning Systemic Racism and Police Brutality

June 5, 2020

The CESS Board stands in solidarity and supports the following statement condemning systemic racism and police brutality from the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES):

The Executive Committee and the Committee for the Advocacy of Diversity and Inclusion of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies issued the following statement:

The Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) condemns the brutal killing of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Darnesha Harris, Tamir Rice and many others. We further condemn the decision of local police to resort to coercion in response to the protests and the inflammatory actions by the US administration. We stand in solidarity with Black and other marginalized communities in this moment of collective action against systemic violence directed at people of color by police. We recognize that the dehumanization directed against Black people in the US is a legacy of our history of slavery and a horrifying consequence of racism.

As scholars and students of Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasian history and society, we have gained intimate knowledge of the atrocities committed by authoritarian regimes, which have deployed military and secret police to deprive people of their rights of association and expression. But we also study people who engage in courageous individual and collective acts against such regimes, in some cases leading to revolution. Crucially, we are familiar with rulers who declare that protestors deserve the coercion used against them and squash the protests, leading to more authoritarianism. This should never happen in a democracy.

As our democracy is in crisis, we declare that it is more important than ever to engage in reflection and meaningful action to bring more diversity, and to create spaces where scholars of color in our field, and beyond, feel empowered to center marginalized perspectives and can thrive as researchers and educators. This is a time to reflect on the history of our Association, work to undo systemic inequalities, become more inclusive and protect our colleagues whose race or economic situation makes them vulnerable in our society.

As an association based in the US, a proclaimed democracy, we have the freedom and the moral responsibility to stand up for justice. As researchers and educators, we are committed to dialogue, reflection, and public engagement. We call upon our members to use their expertise both in the classroom and in public forums to engage in discussions on race and racial justice. Scholarship and creative work can be powerful tools in the struggle against racism and racialized violence, and today we must use them in this way. We also affirm that we will redouble our efforts to create a safe, equitable and just community in every place where we live, study, teach and work, beginning in our own organization and field.

Posted by ASEEES June 4, 2020