The murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis is only the most recent example of the state violence and structural subordination that Black people face in the United States, a violence and a subordination also confronted in unique ways by indigenous communities, and people of color. As faculty and staff at the Institute for Comparative Modernities, we condemn all acts of racism, discrimination, and violence and stand in solidarity with the protests and with our colleagues in a number of allied departments and units across Cornell University whose recent statements we second and amplify.
At ICM, the righteous recent uprisings also inspire us to apply ourselves with greater urgency and creativity to the institute’s core mission. This mission is to foster knowledge, inquiry and debate centered on race, empire, the legacies of colonialism and of anticolonial struggle. In a climate in which those in political power stoke racist violence and peddle misinformation and false histories, this work is more vital than ever. Universities have a basic responsibility to question—unflinchingly and with rigor—the political and economic processes that naturalize the dismissability of certain people and the disposability of certain lives, lives that can be taken, maimed, or appropriated with impunity. This responsibility also requires retrieving and analyzing the long history of resistance and solidarity against racist and colonial oppression, both within the United States and throughout the world. We therefore call on our university to further commit to these educational imperatives and to lead the way—through its hiring, curriculum, and institutional investment—in a genuine study of such enduring features of the national and international condition.
Cornell University is located in the traditional homelands of the Gayogo hó꞉nǫʼ (Cayuga Nation), one of the six nations of the Haudenosaunee confederacy.
Image detail: David Hammons, Untitled (Flag), 2017 [Image courtesy of David Hammons]