Managing Committee Statement in Support of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour Communities
The following statement is from the officers and executive committee of the Managing Committee and the ad hoc Committee on Diversity and Inclusion of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens in support of ongoing protests by members of Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities and their allies. We have not done nearly enough to help in creating a just, inclusive, and diverse community whether in the academy or in the broader world. This statement describes both our fundamental values and our immediate plans for action.
Our words here cannot hope to address adequately the fear and anger, resilience and hope experienced by members of Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities. Despite the insufficiency of our words, our hearts and our heads are committed to the work of learning, listening, and taking action in support of members of Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities. We welcome any people and organizations who wish to work together with us in this vital task.
Mark L. Lawall (University of Manitoba), Chair, Managing Committee
Kathleen M. Lynch (University of Cincinnati), Vice-Chair, Managing Committee
Stephanie L. Larson (Bucknell University), Secretary, Managing Committee
William T. Loomis, President, Board of Trustees of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens
Elizabeth Langridge-Noti (University of California, Davis), President Alumni/ae Association of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens
Executive Committee of the Managing Committee
Glenn R. Bugh (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)
Brendan Burke (University of Victoria)
Laura C. Gawlinski (Loyola University Chicago)
Denver Graninger (University of California, Riverside)
Nancy Klein (Texas A&M University)
Maria A. Liston (University of Waterloo)
David Gilman Romano (University of Arizona)
Georgia Tsouvala (Illinois State University)
The ad hoc Committee on Diversity and Inclusion
Joanne Berdebes (American School of Classical Studies, Director of Institutional Giving)
Bryan Burns (Wellesley College)
Kimberly Flint-Hamilton (St. Lawrence University)
Susan Kirkpatrick Smith (Kennesaw State University)
Lilly Kustec (American School of Classical Studies, Social Media Manager)
John W. I. Lee (University of California, Santa Barbara)
Kristen Seaman (University of Oregon)
Statement from the Managing Committee
Over its 139-year history, the American School of Classical Studies has come to play a pivotal role in shaping Classical Studies, Byzantine through Modern Greek Studies, and Archaeological Science. In recent years, the field of Classical Studies has been forced to confront its contribution to social injustice, inequality, colonialism and racism. The protest movements that have emerged and grown in recent years, including Black Lives Matter, #metoo, LGBTQ2 activism, and Idle No More, have required us to explore how both our personal actions and our academic field – including the ASCSA – have perpetuated grave social injustice and inequality. The murder of George Floyd, and of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many others before them, sparked protests in cities across the United States, Canada, and around the world – including Athens. These voices of protest remind us, more forcefully than ever, of the pressing need to listen to the words of anger and frustration from Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities, to educate ourselves, and most importantly to work together against the racism and social injustice they suffer.
The Managing Committee of the School draws its strength from the wide range of personal beliefs, gender and social identities, fields of expertise, economic circumstances, and kinds of institutions represented by its members. Even so, we recognize the scarcity of ethnic and racial diversity among our leadership, our membership, and our programs more broadly. We have made efforts to support the participation of a broader array of students and scholars, but we must do more. Our efforts start from these shared values:
- The ASCSA welcomes students and scholars of all ethnicities, races, religions, physical abilities, and gender identities; and we value the unique, lived experiences and perspectives of all members of our community, present and future.
- The ASCSA strives to remove socio-economic impediments to accessing the resources, facilities, and programs of the School.
- A diverse community of scholars – diverse in terms of ethnicity, race, gender, religion, physical ability, and socio-economic status – is a necessary and desirable foundation for a dynamic, progressive, and creative future of Classical Studies and all fields of scholarship.
- As an academic community we value the free, respectful and open exchange of ideas.
- The ASCSA values its collaborative, collegial relationships with our hosts, the people of Greece.
- The ASCSA is committed to making positive contributions to the educational and economic opportunities of the communities where it carries out research, whether in Athens, Corinth or across Greece through affiliated projects.
As a School community within the broader academic communities of Classical Studies, Byzantine through Modern Greek Studies, and Archaeological Science, we must examine our past and present practices. In what ways does what we do, and what our predecessors did, perpetuate, justify or normalize social inequality, racism and white supremacy? What unfair barriers do we create impeding entry into the scholarly world we value so highly? When have we not lived up to the values listed above? Most importantly, what do we do next?
We cannot assume that the structures and requirements of programs of grants and fellowships fit the social and economic constraints of all. We cannot assume that ‘merit-based’ competition for funding is fairly distributed and equally accessible to all. These are the comfortable assumptions of the past. They are no longer sustainable; the voices raised in protest over the past week have made this clear. We are committed to a thoughtful analysis and discussion of how our current practices of granting admission and funding must consider this reality.
The American School of Classical Studies affirms its commitment to removing those financial and social impediments that limit access by members of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities to the educational opportunities and research resources in all of the fields of scholarship within our mission.
- In the next few weeks we will announce a significant program of accessible educational support for members of the Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities
Access alone is not sufficient. We further commit to welcoming and encouraging the contributions that members of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities make to the scholarly enterprise. The field of Classical Studies can only grow into a truly humanistic discipline when it includes the insights and ideas of those who experience the world as members of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities.
We must do more.
- We are creating an online forum for continued discussion of these issues not only by all members of the MC but also by staff, current members and past members.
- We will gather confidential feedback from the School community on access to our programs and our success or failure in creating an inclusive space for research and social interaction.
- We are reviewing our admissions and funding practices.
- We will increase the attention paid both to issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion and to our disciplines’ history relating to racism and colonialism in School programming.
- We are creating a space on the School’s website to make known our efforts to improve equity, diversity and inclusion at the School; without this there is no accountability.
The American School of Classical Studies has a vital role to play in reshaping the Academy and its role in a more just society. We are one small part of that system. Our nearly 140 years, 190+ cooperating institutions, and nearly 400-member Managing Committee all give us influence beyond our size. We are too influential as an institution to remain silent or complacent.
Above all, right now, we express our support for the struggles of the Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities in the United States and Canada. We wholeheartedly endorse the recent statements of the Archaeological Institute of America (*) and the Society for Classical Studies (**). We reaffirm our support for past and present students and staff of the School who are members of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities. We urge all members of the School community to learn what they can do as academics and individuals to support Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities in the academy and in society (+).
(+) One recent site that gathers many important resources is: https://classicssocialjustice.wordpress.com/2020/06/04/letter-of-support-and-solidarity-from-non-black-classicists/ . There are many others.