Our Position on Systemic Racism


The Ohio State Department of Linguistics asserts its unconditional support for Black members of our community and Black communities everywhere as they confront yet another series of unjust, racist attacks on their freedom to live as equal humans. We recognize the pain and rage that these dehumanizing acts of injustice engender and see that these acts emerge from the structural racism that is ingrained in our society. We strongly support the waves of peaceful protests sweeping the country and condemn the systematized police brutality that we have seen growing evidence of since the murder of George Floyd. The lives of our Black students, our Black colleagues, our Black coworkers, our Black friends and neighbors, our Black families — of all Black people — matter. 

We recognize that racism is manifested not only in overt and covert acts of hate, but also in privilege, in ignorance, and in apathy. We must be vigilant in recognizing, naming, and rooting out systemic racism in our midst and wherever we encounter it. We acknowledge that there is more work to be done to increase diversity in our faculty and student body, as well as in our collective teaching and research activities. 

We are committed, in the short- and the long-term, to undertaking systematic efforts so that our values and beliefs are reflected not only in our words, but more importantly, also in our concrete actions. Starting this coming academic year, Ohio State Linguistics will expand opportunities for conversations that address questions of diversity in racial and other identities, and related questions of systemic marginalization and inequity. In particular we commit to: 

  • Expanding department-wide activities to educate department members about racial justice and other dimensions of social justice, and to guide us in establishing anti-racist practices throughout department life (for example, requiring diversity training for all department members and organizing diversity training exercises every year). 

  • Proactively working on increasing the participation of students from diverse backgrounds in our undergraduate and graduate programs and supporting their academic goals through mentoring and guidance. We will reach out to the diverse student organizations on campus to do so. 

  • Increasing our intellectual engagement with linguistic research that confronts issues of ethnoracial, linguistic, and gender-based marginalization through colloquia and other academic talks, making sure to have at least one such topic on our list of colloquiums yearly. 

  • Conducting yearly climate surveys within our department to understand where we can improve with respect to our inclusion and diversity practices and act accordingly. (These surveys will allow department members to anonymously report any issue that might otherwise be difficult to bring up.) 

  • Continuing a sustained discussion of how to improve our curriculum to better reflect inclusion and diversity. Increasing the use of content in our existing curriculum that reflects our commitment to ethnoracial, linguistic, and gender diversity (for example by substantively increasing the use of non-Anglocentric/non-Eurocentric materials in our teaching). 

We understand that we have work to do, both as individuals and as a collective, to confront and change ourselves and to build a department fundamentally more welcoming of everyone, regardless of race, gender, identity. We take to heart the words of James Baldwin: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”