A Message on Black Lives Matter

June 3, 2020

A message from the Directors of
the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center
Human Rights Institute

Black lives matter.  We share the grief, sadness, and anger at the loss of George Floyd, whose murder follows so closely on that of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others.  Each of their lives, like each and every Black life in our community and around the world, is unique, beautiful, and irreplaceable, and deserving of respect and dignity.  The great and abiding shame of our nation is our inability to acknowledge, confront, and redress the legacy of white supremacy and the failure of our institutions, particularly our law enforcement institutions, to respect the human rights of black and brown people.

Black lives matter.  We join the demands of protesters in Minneapolis, Louisville, and across the country for real justice, including holding to account the perpetrators of these horrific murders and the dismantling of broader systems of oppression.  Beyond the individuals at whose hands George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery lost their lives, we recognize the culpability of police departments and other law enforcement institutions that have too often pursued policies and practices that all but ensure black communities will be exposed to brutality and violence.  Finally, we join demands for accountability for the leaders, including the President of the United States, who have sought to augment their own power by exploiting racist resentment and deepening black suffering.

Black lives matter.  Achieving justice is not simply a matter of arrests, prosecutions, and convictions of the murders, but rather will require concerted and coordinated efforts to build a broader culture of human rights.  This work, which the protesters around the country have been courageous in taking up, is our responsibility as well.  We, the directors of programs dedicated to human rights, join our colleagues at the University of Connecticut, including those in Africana Studies, our fellow interdisciplinary centers, institutes, and programs, and the President and Provost, in affirming our commitment to making the struggle against racism central to our work in building an equitable and just UConn and society.  We invite you to join the African American Cultural Center as they host an online Town Hall on the Covid-19 Pandemic and Racism in the African American Community at 6pm on Thursday, June 4.  Likewise, we invite you to join the Racial Profiling Prohibition Project and stakeholders from across the state for Truth & Reconciliation: A Conversation about Race and Policing at 11am on Friday, June 5.  Finally, we invite you to join us in the coming months as we commit to striving to be anti-racist in our teaching, scholarship, and work with communities. 

Black lives matter.  White supremacy, and the violence that is necessary to its maintenance, is our shared legacy, and has woven a dark thread of racism into the fabric of our society and institutions, including our institutions of higher education.  Such legacy does not need to be our destiny, however, and we are committed to the slow, painful, deliberate work of untying the knotted history of racist injustice and reknitting our communities together in justice.

In sorrow, solidarity, and hope,

Glenn Mitoma
Director, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center

Kathy Libal
Director, Human Rights Institute