Statement of the AfAA on the Killing of George Floyd and the Fight for Racial Justice
The Association for Africanist Anthropology stands in solidarity with the U.S and international protests and social movements against the violent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others at the hands of law enforcement. We see these deaths as blatant violations of human rights and the rights of every citizen to live in peace. As an organization of people of various racial and ethnic backgrounds who work in Africa and around the world, we stand against these acts. We are deeply concerned about the abuses of the powers of law enforcement in all of these spaces and how they impact people of African descent all across the world. We express our sympathy and share the grief of George Floyd’s family and friends, and express our condolences to the loved ones of so many others who have suffered state sponsored violence.
We understand these experiences of racial oppression to exist not only in the United States, but also in Africa and across the globe as part of a larger system. As Africanists, we call for the vehement denunciation of oppressions on the continent of Africa while also seeing how they relate to oppressions here at home in the United States. Writers, activists, politicians, and everyday men, women, and children in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and other parts of the African continent have taken to the streets, social media, and other platforms to stand with those of African descent in the United States and elsewhere who have suffered disproportionate violence and death at the hands of law enforcement (https://www.voanews.com/africa/africa-rises-rage-over-george-floyd-death-us). Yet, their protests also call attention to the devaluing of African life that occurs on a daily basis in various contexts on the African continent, as well as the numerous social inequalities that hinder the life chances of so many Africans as well.
The mistreatment of people of African descent by law enforcement compounds the everyday systemic racism and institutionalized inequities in health, education, incarceration, housing, employment, and so many other areas. This systemic racism is part of a larger global system that has its roots in the centuries of enslavement of Africans in the Trans-Atlantic trade, European colonization of African lands and peoples, and policies of racial segregation and exclusion that existed within Africa as well. The Association for Africanist Anthropology acknowledges these tragic histories while also paying attention to how they continue to shape race relations and disparities even to this day.
The AfAA also supports and stands in solidarity with the extensive, detailed statement released by the Association of Black Anthropologists (ABA) against police violence and anti-Black racism (http://aba.americananthro.org/). As educators, researchers, and activists, the Association for Africanist Anthropology seeks to contribute to a better and just world where race-based violence and inequities have no place. We commit to contributing our knowledge, skills and methodologies, and practice to collectively find solutions to these complex, interwoven, and volatile problems.
Executive Board, Association for Africanist Anthropology
June 17, 2020