BIPOC Lives Matter
We, the faculty of the Department of Anthropology at Idaho State University, stand in solidarity against systemic racism and the resulting injustices and violence towards our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) community, students, and colleagues. We unhesitatingly affirm that “Black Lives Matter.” We grieve with protestors and family members the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and too many others as the result of white supremacist ideologies and racist actions. We stand with Christian Cooper and the many other BIPOC who have survived discrimination and oppression. Everyday, these individuals face acts of white entitlement and the effects of micro- and macro- aggressions. We acknowledge the long-entrenched structural violence that is embedded in the legal and law enforcement system; disproportionately impacting BIPOC communities.
As anthropologists, we strongly affirm that the concept of race “…does not provide an accurate representation of human biological variation,” in the past or present as stated by the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. Racism has no biological reality. It is socially constructed. Yet racism and prejudice have very real social and biological consequences. Systemic racism impacts BIPOC health and well-being and reinforces economic and social vulnerabilities.
The long-held and ill-intentioned belief in race as a naturally divisive aspect of biology emerged during the 19th Century to justify the enslavement and subjugation of peoples of color and to maintain the privileged position of those in power. The resulting institutional and structural inequalities arising from centuries of the oppression of Black people have shaped discriminatory policies and racist ideologies that persist today.
Any statement of anti-racist solidarity is hollow without sustainable, concrete measures of action to make systemic changes and redress the manifestations of colonialism and racism. As anthropologists, we must turn the critical lens on ourselves. It is important to acknowledge that the field of Anthropology is itself rooted in a history of colonial and divisionary practices. As a department, we reject the continuance of that legacy and actively seek to decolonize anthropological scholarship, teaching, and practices. For example, in early 2020, we eliminated the GRE requirement for our graduate program. We recognize that racial and socioeconomic inequalities are deeply embedded in students’ abilities to access testing and to perform well in standardized testing situations.
Many of our faculty have spent their entire careers working to understand the systemic and underlying causes of inequity, oppression, and marginalization of peoples. Through participatory methods, these faculty seek to give voice to marginalized groups, particularly in the fields of health and the environment. Our faculty acknowledge the colonized nature of scholarship. In order to address this, we regularly require students to read pieces written by a diversity of authors. We openly and critically discuss issues of race and exclusion with students, including contextualizing the construction of social, political, and judicial systems through the oppression of BIPOC. We emphasize the dismantling of such systems.
As continued steps towards acknowledging and confronting racist structures and practices in the nation, the discipline, and the academy, while promoting equity, justice, and diversity and decolonizing our own professional practices, the Idaho State University Department of Anthropology reaffirms our commitment to the following practices:
- Actively and openly listening to our BIPOC students about their lived experiences and making intentional efforts to welcome and support them;
- Recruiting and supporting BIPOC applications to our graduate program;
- Embracing practices and policies supporting diversity of student recruitment and faculty hiring choices;
- Continued training in inclusive teaching practices;
- Further educating our students and the public about human diversity, promoting empathy and tolerance across divides, and engaging and reaching out to our community to provide support of these values in support of antiracism;
- Exercising regular faculty introspection and accountability to critically evaluate our inclusion of BIPOC scholars and scholarship into course syllabi and research agendas. This includes making clear statements of the intent for inclusive teaching in course documents with acknowledgement of the invited, cooperative, and imperfect effort between instructors and students to evolve and grow such a climate;
- Standing by our decision to eliminate GRE exams to provide more equitable access to graduate education.
We refer to sources which expand on this statement from professional anthropological organizations here:
- American Association of Physical Anthropologists, Statement on Race
- Association of Black Anthropologists, Statement Against Police Violence and Anti-Black Racism
- American Anthropological Association, Statement on Race
- Society for American Archaeology, Call to Confront Racial Injustice