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Our Position on Systemic Racism

As a community, we affirm the value and dignity of all people. As linguists, we recognize that no language variety has greater inherent value than any other and that linguistic freedom is a fundamental right. Language prejudice is, in particular, a powerful force supporting racism, sexism, classism, transphobia, and ableism. Linguists and linguistics have an opportunity to help counter these systems and to help inspire language users to celebrate linguistic diversity.

We as a department commit to pursuing linguistic justice by teaching others the established principles of linguistic equity that lie at the heart of our field's beliefs. These include:

  • Sign languages are fully developed linguistic systems with rich cultural heritages.
  • There is no objective basis for characterizing any language as more complex than another.
  • Racist and classist characterizations of language as "broken" are damaging and have no basis in reality.

In the words of Jon Henner, “How you language is beautiful. Don’t let anyone tell you your languaging is wrong. Your languaging is the story of your life."

We also commit to pursuing justice within our own field and our community, by:

  • Expanding department-wide activities to guide us in establishing anti-racist and other equity-promoting practices throughout department life. 
  • Hosting at least one colloquium per year on ethnoracial, gendered, disability-based or other form of linguistic marginalization.
  • Increasing the use of content in our existing curriculum that reflects our commitment to ethnoracial, linguistic, and gender diversity (for example by actively looking for opportunities to substantively increase the use of non-Anglocentric/non-Eurocentric materials in our teaching) where possible.