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The Department of Classics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill condemns the murders by the police of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade and calls for justice and accountability for their deaths, as well as the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and countless others. We recognize the trauma that these recent and unfolding events, as well as the enduring, systematic structures of white supremacy, inflict on Black people and people of color. We also acknowledge that white people, regardless of their beliefs, benefit from this system, and that the national conversations about violence and oppression are not abstract and distant, but are directly relevant to our own campus community (witness the controversies over Silent Sam) and our pedagogies.

With this in mind, we are seeking multiple means to make our field and department more equitable and inclusive, and we are amplifying the work of other groups who promote that goal. We stand in solidarity with Black communities, and we repudiate the use of classical antiquity to support anti-Black racism, white supremacy, and any form of prejudice. For us, “Black Lives Matter” is not just a cause to follow but a promise to fulfill. However, realizing that words are not enough, we commit to the following actions:

  • To seek out further resources and activities to help us better understand the systemic racism embedded in the structures we inhabit by engaging in comprehensive training with the Race Equity Institute in the coming academic year
  • To continue our work with “Carolina Firsts” to develop classes and share resources for first-generation college students
  • To include in our courses, especially large lecture courses, discussion of concepts of race and ethnicity in the ancient world and how they affect the modern world
  • To support institutional reform at UNC by supporting Black faculty, staff and student groups and advocating for the direct acknowledgement of UNC’s racist past, and an active and transparent reckoning with that history
  • To support the cancellation of the moratorium on renaming campus buildings

We consider these to be starting points in our ongoing commitment to social justice and making Classics more equitable and inclusive. Additionally, we welcome feedback on how we can continue to improve in our support of Black communities and anti-racist initiatives.
Finally, in the spirit of learning, we share with you the following lists of statements and essays by Black classicists and resources for learning and teaching:

Statements and essays by Black classicists

Resources Related to Classics and Classical Archaeology

Resources for Learning and Teaching

Other Statements