The Gender Studies Program at Mississippi State University unequivocally condemns the racism and violence Black Americans routinely experience in our nation. The deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Riah Milton, Dominique Fells, Raychard Brooks, George Floyd, and so many others are not the result of anomalous actions of a few ‘bad apples.’ These individuals lost their lives as a direct result of the systemic racism and white supremacy that is endemic across the United States.
As gender scholars we know that gender cannot be understood as distinct from race but must be viewed through an intersectional lens. Black men and boys experience violence and harassment because of the erroneous beliefs our society has perpetuated about black masculinity. Black women battle at the intersections of racism, sexism, and classism against the wage gap, reproductive oppression, and so much more. Our society continues to devalue the lives of Black trans women who are mercilessly targeted by hate crimes and violence.
Mississippi is often considered an epicenter for racism and racial inequality. It is also home to generations of leaders and activists, including Fannie Lou Hamer, June Johnson, Medgar and Myrlie Evers, Richard Holmes, James Meredith, and so many more who risked their own lives to challenge systemic racism. Now, a new generation of leaders is rising, many of them MSU students. The Gender Studies Program is committed to celebrating both historical and contemporary Black scholars, artists, and activists, such as Patricia Hill Collins, Laverne Cox, Willie Parker, Alicia Garza, and the Crunk Feminist Collective through our programming and teaching.
It is inspiring to see renewed attention paid to works of literature, film, history, and art created by Black artists, leaders, and scholars. It is awe-inspiring to see so many people, in Mississippi, the nation, and around the world take to the streets in support of racial equality. It is also infuriating and agonizing that such efforts are still needed, after centuries of brutal injustice, violence, and exploitation.
The Gender Studies Program affirms and renews our commitment to teaching and programming that center Black experiences and lives. We will ask difficult questions, and we will be asked difficult questions, by ourselves and our communities. We will not always have answers, and we will be committed to humility and transformation as we learn and change more each day.
The daunting task of constructing a more just society and university will never be complete, but rather an ongoing journey. We welcome your feedback regarding the role the Gender Studies Program may play during this revolutionary period in our nation’s history; please feel free to contact us at email@example.com.
For those seeking resources immediately, MSU’s Center for Student Leadership and Community Engagement has developed this list .