The Department of Kinesiology at UNCG would like to share a statement with our community related to recent events. We are shaken by the recent deaths of Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor — the latest public atrocities added to the more than 400-year history of relentless oppression faced by Black people. The recent citizen protests against anti-Black racism and brutality in law enforcement and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement highlight an urgent need for all institutions to stand up and advocate for social justice. The faculty and staff of the Department of Kinesiology acknowledge that systemic racism and racist policies affect all aspects of our society and recognize the need for broad change. We are committed to making change happen through our teaching, service, research, and community engagement.
Our first step in creating change is for our faculty and staff to reexamine our practices and policies to identify any weaknesses and challenges. We will work relentlessly to improve as professionals and build a safe space for all our students to learn. We plan to make real change by interrogating how our own positions as teachers, researchers, friends, or family members impact those around us. Our faculty and staff will have a forum to regularly discuss how our actions and words can counter systemic racism, racist policies, and discrimination. We will begin this summer by using the book “How to be an Antiracist” by eminent historian Ibram X. Kendi as a conduit to advance our knowledge, understanding, and ability to promote antiracist thoughts, words, and action. This first step will lay a strong foundation for us to build our future strategic plan premised on dismantling systemic racism, racist policies, and discrimination within our UNCG community.
We assert that our department values inclusivity, equity, and equal opportunity for all. As faculty and staff, our immediate goal is to ensure that all of our students feel safe and valued in our Kinesiology classrooms. We also recognize that racism is systemic, built into institutions, and woven deeply into society’s consciousness. It is persistent and often implicit. We are seeing its effects in the much higher impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on Black people as well as generally disproportionate health disparities that have long plagued the United States. As citizens and Kinesiologists, we are responsible for addressing and rectifying these realities.
The department’s leadership is working to develop a long-term plan for Kinesiology to counter systemic racism. We are also taking the following actions to promote immediate change:
- Through self-reflection and candid discussions, we will identify concerns in our teaching practices or communications, and develop action steps to improve.
- We will intertwine our actions with the university’s values on diversity and inclusivity to demonstrate that our actions will speak louder than our words.
- We will continue to critically reflect and interrogate our instructional, research, service, and community-engaged programs to identify and overcome any overt or covert systemic racism.
In our second step, we will create a faculty, staff, student, and alumni committee to:
- Act as a forum for public discussions to confirm our progress over time.
- Design a plan to identify weaknesses/vulnerabilities in addressing systemic racism in our department and in the field of Kinesiology.
In these plans, the faculty, staff, students, and alumni are partners and teammates. We will rely on one another to fight the same fight and make changes to achieve our goals related to anti-racism. Our faculty, staff, students, and alumni are change agents and have the ability to advocate for human rights and responsibilities.
The faculty and staff know that our duty is to communicate our values to students and alumni. It is critically important that the students and the public know the stance of our faculty and staff on systemic racism and our commitment to create and maintain a safe and socially just learning environment in which all students regardless of gender, gender identity, race, social-economic status, sexual orientation, religion, culture, or disability can feel welcome and valued, and succeed in pursuing their personal goals. We aim to create and maintain an inclusive environment that will help everyone feel supported in fighting against systemic racism, racist policies, and discrimination. We will produce immediate change and develop a dynamic and fluid action plan toward these goals. We value the support from our students and alumni, and look forward to working together to create change.
The Department of Kinesiology at UNCG
Published June 25, 2020