Statement by the African Studies Association on Police Violence and Racism in the United States.

June 6, 2020

The African Studies Association (ASA), founded in 1957 in the United States and the largest membership-organization of scholars about Africa globally, stands in solidarity with all those protesting against police violence and racism in the United States of America. We stand in memory of the invaluable lives of George Floyd, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Amadou Diallo, Kofi Adu-Brempong and Breonna Taylor, and many, many more.

We recognize that this is a struggle that has gone on for far too long in the United States, kept alive by the work of #BlackLivesMatter activists, civil rights and anti-lynching campaigners and abolitionists for generations.

The association offers our deepest sympathy and condolences to the Floyd family who, with the rest of the world, bore witness to the murder of their son, brother, father, and uncle. We recognize the trauma this inflicted on the Floyd family as well as those who courageously filmed this atrocity as it unfolded. We were all traumatized to watch in real time the public murder of George Floyd. Moreover, we recognize the assault on the family’s senses as they observed the perpetrators of this violent act conduct themselves with complete disregard of Floyd’s humanity, life and breath.

The ASA, along with the thousands of people across the United States and around the world who came out in protest, condemn this obscene act of violence. Sadly, the murder of George Floyd is not an isolated incident. It is one of too many deaths of African-American men, women and children at the hands of the police. Their deaths are symptomatic of the deeply embedded racism that is woven into the DNA of America’s institutions, policies and culture. It is the fruit of racism that is so endemic that it rewards the police who use excessive force with impunity, and empowers white men and women to call the police on black people as they eat, sleep, run or try to birdwatch.

Bearing witness to a murder by agents of the state and the creeping authoritarianism in the United States have catapulted us into a new political moment of reckoning. The African Studies Association stands in solidarity with those who demand accountability from our police, politicians, and president. We reject the increasing militarization of local police forces and the strenuous efforts to undermine democracy through voter suppression.

Through our research, writing, teaching and advocacy, the African Studies Association is committed to undoing the damage wrought by institutional racism. We pledge to contribute to and support efforts that address racial, economic and social inequalities. More importantly, we will be part of solutions that privilege the value of human life and our collective humanity in Africa and in the United States.