Statement on Black Lives Matter

As sociologists, we know these murders are rooted in broader social structures, dynamics, and practices spanning centuries. They are a painful reminder that, in key respects, US society functions as a racialized system in both overt, explicit  (“old-fashioned”) ways and the more contemporary, subtle “color blind” racism. Both versions of racism affect our social institutions, organizations, and day-to-day lives. We recognize that anti-Blackness is a foundational element to global systems of governance and capitalism. White supremacy has been built on a long history of geopolitical inequality and colonization, which has meant the construction of race, racism, and systems of oppression that have affected racial and ethnic groups differently, both in the US and elsewhere. We know that institutionalized white supremacy has been a powerful and pervasive force of destruction for many peoples worldwide for centuries, and it remains so today.

As sociologists, one of our key concerns is to teach and produce knowledge about inequality. Yet we are aware of the contradiction that the very institution within which we do this work (i.e. higher education), also contributes to the reproduction of inequality and racist ideologies. We are committed to collaborating with our colleagues within and outside the department to seek ways to inhibit the perpetuation of such systems. 
Faculty and staff in sociology have contributed to an anti-racist pedagogy in and outside of the classroom by designing and supporting courses and co-curricular activities to address students’ experience with issues of race and racism within and beyond the college. We are dedicated to understanding how systematic racism and exclusion brought on by white supremacy have impacted racial justice. We are invested in making sure our students gain the critical tools that allow them to understand the insidious mechanisms and operations of racism, so as to challenge them in turn. We are also committed to addressing the curricular and co-curricular needs of students of color at Bowdoin.

In an effort to deepen our commitment to anti-racism we have set out the following goals:

  1. We will systematically rethink how we present and define our discipline. During the 2020-21 academic year we will collaboratively interrogate our core courses to foreground the work of foundational thinkers beyond the traditional canon, specifically seeking to elevate the voices of women, scholars of color, and decolonial thought.
  2. We will become better informed of how we can best approach the dismantling of systemic racism within our own teaching practices and classroom spaces. We will further integrate anti-racist pedagogical practices within our teaching methods and the courses we offer. We will continue to find opportunities to center the voices of people of color in our classrooms and our public programming, such as guest lectures, round tables, and other events.
  3. We will broaden our recognition of outstanding student work within our department, to celebrate a wider variety of viewpoints and perspectives. Starting this year, we will expand our research and public sociology prizes to include outstanding coursework and applied public sociology.
  4. We will continue to challenge and dismantle college-wide systems and curricular requirements that bolster and enact white supremacy at Bowdoin.
  5. As researchers and public intellectuals, we will strive to make our ideas and research accessible to diverse audiences.  We will use our voices to draw attention to inequities and promote lasting social change.

We want to create and encourage dialogue and be accountable to our communities – both within and outside the Bowdoin campus. We join you in pursuit of a better, more just world for all. Black lives matter.

Bowdoin College Sociology Department