As members of the Obama Institute at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and personally, we are terribly saddened to see the developments in the United States of America. We, therefore, express our solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and those who are protesting for justice and equal rights for all.
The past years have shown that against common belief we are still facing deeply rooted systemic racism in society and public institutions in the United States of America and across the globe in general. There is still a long way to go until we create a society, free of racial bigotry and injustices and we specifically want to acknowledge that it is the responsibility of privileged institutions like us to take it upon themselves to educate, to be educated and no longer to remain silent.
The current unrest in the United States of America and manifestations of systemic racist violence have caused worldwide reactions and concerns about the peaceful co-existence of all groups in democratic societies. As members of the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies, we stand with the African American community and all other groups who are institutionally oppressed and will offer support to their cause.
We condemn all forms of racism, violence and police brutality and therefore join our exchange partners in the United States in finding peaceful solutions to create a world in which nobody “will […] be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” These common endeavors are part of our teaching and research activities.
It remains an ongoing challenge of academia not only in American Studies to try to contribute towards changing the structures of white supremacy. As members of an institution, it is essential that we reflect on our own biases and the systemic injustices that we, too, may be complicit in perpetuating. Such reflection is all the more important since in our research, we often study the role of white privilege, of implicit or explicit bias, and the mechanisms of hegemony. Yet, such academic knowledge will ultimately be void unless it is translated into the concrete lives we lead, and the decisions we make in both our institutional and our individual lives. For this reason, we believe that our work needs to be comparative; it needs to investigate racial prejudice not only in the US, but in Germany as well.
Our research about the challenges to democracy both in the US and in other parts of the world is dedicated to the pursuit of precisely the pressing needs and questions about the function of democracy in societies undergoing rapid changes in the 21st century whilst combatting inequalities such as health conditions, violence and racial injustice.
We invite our students, colleagues, and friends to join us in believing in the true potentials of multi-ethnic democracies on a transnational scale. Let us honor the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others before them; and let us constantly remind ourselves that we need to resist injustice in whatever shape it may take.
– Team American Studies II