June 8, 2020
The REEES faculty write to let you know that we, like you, have been deeply shaken by the brutal killing of George Floyd by four Minneapolis policemen—the most recent of countless atrocities that have occurred on U.S. soil over the last 401 years—and by the militaristic response to peaceful protests against racial violence and in support of racial justice in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere across the nation. We are particularly cognizant of the traumatic effects these events have had on our students of color and their communities; they are both the targets of this violence and on the frontlines of protest. As scholars of Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, we are no strangers to the role that dissidence has played in resisting fascism, totalitarianism, and state power, yet we are equally aware of how our field has often been unwilling to tackle the issue of racial oppression. We are, thus, moved by the ethical stance you have taken against police brutality and systemic racism, whether it be through your thoughtful writings on the tragic events, your participation in local demonstrations, or, in the case of our Graduate Employees, the compassionate ways you have mentored your students.
We understand that, at this critical moment, it is no easy task to fulfill the considerable responsibilities you have to society at large and those you have as students. As educators, we are humbled by your actions and are committed to doing everything in our power to ensure that the important intellectual work you have undertaken at the university is not lost—work that, in these trying times, might seem superfluous but that has the potential to lay the foundation for a more informed, equitable, and imaginable future. So please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you are encountering challenges. We will work with you to find ways to overcome them. Though the academic year will be over in less than a week, we will be here to help you navigate your way through your studies—and the world. This is true for all of you regardless of where you might hail from. We remain ever hopeful for the future you are shaping.
The REEES Faculty