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Anthropology Department Statement on Anti-Black Racism and State Violence

The Department of Anthropology stands with communities at UC San Diego, in  greater San Diego, and across the United States who mourn the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Tony McDade. We write in anger and in grief as we witness the most recent wave of killings in the long history of anti-Blackness in the United States. Many of us research structural violence and know that state violence was built over centuries to buttress and enable indigenous dispossession and racial capitalism. In these times, we agree with Martin Luther King, Jr. that the voices of those who experience violence and injustice in their everyday lives must be heard. We agree with James Baldwin that “ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have."    

As faculty and as people whose lives extend beyond the bounds of the university, we must do more than condemn yet another murder. We call for action against all sources of racism and violence, including those emanating from our institutions. We express solidarity with student demands for greater university accountability for the violence of police on and off campus, including on Saturday, May 30th when police tear gassed and shot protestors with rubber bullets in La Mesa. We call for the demilitarization of campus police and are committed to developing community-based, non-militarized means of keeping our campus safe.

We strongly support a recent letter penned by students to the UC San Diego administration imploring it to extend assistance to students struggling in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd.  It is critical that the university offer this assistance. We also call on UC San Diego and other campuses in the University of California system to respond in meaningful ways to the effects of racialized violence: by redressing the gross disproportionality of COVID-19 related deaths for those in the Black and Latinx communities through dedicated medical and scientific research, and making this a critical priority; by remedying the underrepresentation of Black students and faculty; by refusing policing efforts against, in particular, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, undocumented, and low-income students; by developing and bolstering community-based means of addressing and reducing harm that do not rely on systems of militarized policing that target people of color; and by guaranteeing that the university’s most vulnerable and poorly-paid constituencies not bear the brunt of the financial impacts generated by the pandemic. For our part, as faculty, we commit to amplifying the voices of individuals, communities, and organizations, such as Black Lives Matter, Showing Up For Racial Justice - SURJ San Diego and many others who have long been working to protect communities of color.

As scholars, we have a profound moral responsibility in the ongoing work to build alternatives: repair harm, distribute resources and care, and respond to medical and mental health crises through channels other than state violence.

Recent events forcefully remind us of the important role universities can play in critically analyzing state-sponsored violations of human rights worldwide. Responding to the historic, institutionalized and intransigent forms of racialized violence in our communities is a critical part of the university’s public mission.

Anthropology since its modern foundation more than a century ago has been committed to the scientific critique of the structures of racism and has called  for an end to the violence these structures produce, year after year, generation after generation. In this spirit, and with the expectation that the University of California will join us not only in condemning this system of violence, but in seeking to bring an end to it, we express our deep solidarity with the communities mourning George Floyd and the many other victims of police brutality.

People around the world are protesting, mourning, and demanding change. We understand the rage and grief people share. Their voices should be heard. 


Steven M. Parish

Professor and Chair

Department of Anthropology

University of California, San Diego


Guillermo Algaze, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology

Thomas J. Csordas, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and James Y. Chan Presidential Chair of Global Health

Keolu Fox, Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Pascal Gagneux, Professor of Pathology and Anthropology

Hanna Garth, Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Jade d’Alpoim Guedes, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Janis H. Jenkins, Professor of Anthropology

Joseph Hankins, Vice Chair of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor of Anthropology

John B. Haviland, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology

Aftab S. Jassal, Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Bonnie N. Kaiser, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Global Health

Amy L. Non, Vice Chair of Undergraduate Studies and Associate Professor of Anthropology

David Pedersen, Associate Professor of Anthropology

Nancy Postero, Professor of Anthropology

Isabel C. Rivera-Collazo, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Shirley Strum, Professor of Anthropology

Saiba Varma, Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Rihan Yeh, Associate Professor of Anthropology

Standing with our Asian Community Members

The UC San Diego Department of Anthropology condemns the horrific acts of anti-Asian violence in Atlanta. We are alarmed at the growing persecution and harassment of Asians and Asian Americans across the US, including in California. Such anti-Asian violence is intimately tied to the continuing rise of white nationalism and xenophobia in the US and must not be allowed to flourish in our communities. As anthropologists, we are committed to working towards racial justice and standing against white supremacy in all its forms.   

As we grieve for those killed in Atlanta, we stand in solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander Studies Program at UCSD and join them in calling for substantive dialogue and action on the part of the university to address anti-Asian violence on and off campus.


Campus Resources:
  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) -  (858) 534-3755 (24 hours)
  • Office for Students with Disabilities - (858) 534-4382 |
For continued community support:

●      Stop AAPI Hate : for reporting hate crimes related to the Asian/Asian-American/Pacific Islander communities
●      National AAPI Mental Health Association: resources for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) mental health Services in all 50 states and COVID-19 related resources
●      Asian Americans for Equality: New York-based community organization that offers online and telephone assistance in tenant counseling, immigration services, youth and senior programs, and job training skills. 
●      SD API Coalition: San Diego based Asian Pacific Islander coalition whose mission is to facilitate conversations with API communities and advocate for representation of voices.

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