Like many others across the United States and around the world, we are outraged by a criminal justice system that fails to hold to account the killers of unarmed residents such as Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Aiyanna Jones and many, many more.
We see these events as representative of a broader history of systematic anti-black violence, dating back to enslavement, continuing with lynch law and the development of a prison-industrial complex that still disproportionately affects black children, men and women today.
As anthropologists, members of an academic discipline with the distinctive history of establishing the “science” of race used to justify slavery and discrimination (de jure and de facto), we join our professional association in taking the responsibility to denounce racist violence and to stand in solidarity with other Americans by supporting their right to peaceful but militant protest as a means to end the extra-judicial killing of our brothers and sisters, children, friends and colleagues.
While U.S. ideology holds that all are equal under the law, inequality has been structured into the justice system from the start and is forming a deadly combination with the militarization of local police forces. The injustice and violence have to stop.
The letter was signed by 34 faculty members, doctoral students and graduates of the Department of Anthropology at UNC-Chapel Hill.