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Southern Spaces
A journal about real and imagined spaces and places of the US South and their global connections

Southern Spaces Stands with the Movement for Black Lives

Southern Spaces
Published June 18, 2020

Statement

In the wake of the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, George Floyd, David McAtee, Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells, Riah Milton, and Rayshard Brooks—only the most recent deaths in the longstanding history of violence against Black people—we at Southern Spaces are outraged. Along with the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, we stand in solidarity with those protesting police violence against Black people—and all other forms of systemic racial oppression—and demanding accountability and meaningful change. We support the Black Lives Matter movement, and we denounce white supremacy, police brutality, the punitive carceral system, and the many ongoing injustices that Black people experience in the US and across the globe. We understand, as James Baldwin writes, that under white supremacy "there are several million ways to murder."1James Baldwin, "We Can Change the Country," in The Cross of Redemption: Uncollected Writings, ed. Randall Kenan (New York: Penguin Random House, 2010), 61. Alongside the movement for Black lives we commit to continuing to examine how systemic racism and violence impacts Black women, Black men, and Black LGTBQ+ people in distinct and overlapping ways. We fervently hope for "a world where Black lives are no longer systematically targeted for demise."2"About," Black Lives Matter, https://blacklivesmatter.com/about.

Southern Spaces is a journal devoted to critically and creatively examining real and imagined spaces and places to address questions of spatial justice. We provide a public, open access platform for work engaged in nuanced discussions of race, space, and place. But we can do better. We are a primarily academic publication housed in a university setting and staffed by graduate students and faculty members. We recognize we are entrenched in academia, an institution of structural inequalities that remains majority white and perpetuates systemic racism.3"Characteristics of Postsecondary Faculty," in The Condition of Education 2020, US Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_csc.asp. On racism and oppression in academia, see Salvador Vidal-Ortiz, "Dismantling Whiteness in Academe," Inside Higher Ed, November 10, 2017, https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2017/11/10/how-whiteness-structuring-interactions-higher-education-essay. On racism and oppression in post-secondary teaching, see Frank Tuitt et al., “Teaching in the Line of Fire: Faculty of Color in the Academy," The NEA Higher Education Journal (Fall 2019): 65–74; Beverly-Jean Daniel, "Teaching while Black: racial dynamics, evaluations, and the role of White females in the Canadian academy in carrying the racism torch," Race, Ethnicity, and Education 22, no. 1 (2019): 21–37, https://doi.org/10.1080/13613324.2018.1468745; and Tara L. Parker and Kathleen M. Neville, "The Influence of Racial Identity on White Students' Perceptions of African American Faculty," The Review of Higher Education 42, no. 3 (Spring 2019): 879–901, https://doi.org/10.1353/rhe.2019.0023. We have a fundamental ethical obligation, as a publication and as students, faculty members, and scholars, to eliminate racism and white supremacy within our sphere of influence. Or, in the words of Black feminist scholar Azeezat Johnson, to "align [our] work and practice to unequivocally challenge the logics of racial violence [and systemic racism] wherever we see it perpetuate itself."4Azeezat Johnson, "An Academic Whiteness: White Supremacy Within and Beyond Academia," in The Fire Now: Anti-Racist Scholarship in Times of Explicit Racial Violence, ed. Azeezat Johnson, Remi Joseph-Salisbury, and Beth Kamunge (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018), 15–25. Recognizing that a statement of solidarity must live up to its words, we pledge the following:

  • To amplify the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) contributors and colleagues. We will intensify our social media, CFP, and outreach efforts in seeking and encouraging BIPOC authors, scholars, and cultural producers to send us their work.
  • To issue a call for contributions to a new Southern Spaces series on racial inequality, social justice, and/or Black experiences.
  • To meaningfully increase BIPOC representation on our editorial board.
  • To equip Southern Spaces staff with critical tools to assess scholarship on racial and social injustice. We commit to implementing annual staff training to expand our understanding of the ways racism and white supremacy have become normalized in our social and political systems, institutions, and in the academy, and how we can counteract these injustices through internal review and other editorial processes.
  • To continue educating readers about racial injustice, systemic oppression, and white supremacy by curating, publishing, and distributing open access educational resources addressing these topics.
  • To listen to the voices and prioritize the recommendations of those who experience systemic and everyday acts of racism and racist violence as we further our scholarly work and refine our antiracist policies.

We understand that social justice and change only come from sustained efforts, and we welcome your help and suggestions in keeping us accountable. Contact us at seditor@emory.edu.

doi:10.18737/W16665.2020

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1. James Baldwin, "We Can Change the Country," in The Cross of Redemption: Uncollected Writings, ed. Randall Kenan (New York: Penguin Random House, 2010), 61.
2. "About," Black Lives Matter, https://blacklivesmatter.com/about.
3. "Characteristics of Postsecondary Faculty," in The Condition of Education 2020, US Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_csc.asp. On racism and oppression in academia, see Salvador Vidal-Ortiz, "Dismantling Whiteness in Academe," Inside Higher Ed, November 10, 2017, https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2017/11/10/how-whiteness-structuring-interactions-higher-education-essay. On racism and oppression in post-secondary teaching, see Frank Tuitt et al., “Teaching in the Line of Fire: Faculty of Color in the Academy," The NEA Higher Education Journal (Fall 2019): 65–74; Beverly-Jean Daniel, "Teaching while Black: racial dynamics, evaluations, and the role of White females in the Canadian academy in carrying the racism torch," Race, Ethnicity, and Education 22, no. 1 (2019): 21–37, https://doi.org/10.1080/13613324.2018.1468745; and Tara L. Parker and Kathleen M. Neville, "The Influence of Racial Identity on White Students' Perceptions of African American Faculty," The Review of Higher Education 42, no. 3 (Spring 2019): 879–901, https://doi.org/10.1353/rhe.2019.0023.
4. Azeezat Johnson, "An Academic Whiteness: White Supremacy Within and Beyond Academia," in The Fire Now: Anti-Racist Scholarship in Times of Explicit Racial Violence, ed. Azeezat Johnson, Remi Joseph-Salisbury, and Beth Kamunge (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018), 15–25.