Below is a statement released on June 2, 2020 from the Association of University Presses.
The Association of University Presses (AUPresses) holds among our core values diversity and inclusion. As an organization and as a community, we mourn the lost lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others, stolen by the systemic racism at work in the US. We condemn police brutality and other forms of socially sanctioned racist violence. And we stand in solidarity with all who continue to seek justice, to imagine equity, and to enact a different world.
Many of our member presses put the values of diversity and inclusion into the world in a tangible way, playing major roles over the last few decades in amplifying the voices of scholars who originated African American Studies, Native Studies, and LGBTQ studies, among other groundbreaking fields. These works are readily available to provide insights and are frequently cited as resources in response to police brutality or white supremacist violence.
But we have only to look to evidence such as that found in the Lee & Low Diversity Baseline Survey, indicating in 2019 that our ranks are 76% white, to know that holding a value is not sufficient. Every day our professional community—just as our personal communities—must work towards equity, towards inclusion, and towards justice.
Today we issue the AUPresses Statement on Equity and Anti-Racism, declaring that upholding these core values requires “introspection, honesty, and reform of our current practices, the interests they serve, and the people and perspectives they exclude.” Drafted by our Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, taken through a rigorous review process by our Equity, Justice, and Inclusion (EJI) Committee, and approved by the AUPresses Board of Directors, this statement points a way forward:
“Only with systems of accountability in place to protect and lift up those who have been historically harmed and silenced by our collective inaction will we succeed in dismantling the white supremacist structure upon which so many of our presses and parent institutions were built. How to support these efforts sustainably across the industry must be considered a priority for the Association, its members, and its executive board as well as the main focus of the Equity, Justice, and Inclusion Committee.”
We acknowledge with gratitude the volunteer efforts of our EJI Committee, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, and Gender, Equity, and Cultures of Respect Task Force in calling us to this work. Download a PDF of the Statement on Equity and Anti-Racism.
Our inaugural EJI Community Read is another piece of this witness and work, and many member presses are organizing their staffs to read these essential selections: White Fragility by Robin D’Angelo (Beacon, 2018) and Invisible People by Alex Tizon (Temple, 2019). Our community’s full list of nominations for the Community Read project provides a wider lens through which to understand current events across the US as people protest and seek to right the wrongs of systematic racism and the long injustices of white supremacy.
As a community of publishers we are called to discuss and absorb what these authors have to say and to act on our colleagues’ specific recommendations—such as explicitly anti-racist training for managers, amelioration of the no- and low-wage entry points to our industry, and new recruitment and promotion strategies—with a goal of making equity a lived experience.
George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Michael Brown. The devastating list goes on and on. Yes, say their names. Yes, do the reading. But we must also live and work as though we have listened.