Statement on Black Lives Matter and Anti-Racist Teaching

In the Department of English, Rhetoric, and Spanish at Texas Woman’s University we are ardent defenders of human rights. Recently, we as a department have reflected on how we can meaningfully recognize and respond to the numerous and horrific accounts of police brutality that have long terrorized minorities nationwide, including in our own state. We promise to give our students a place to grieve with us the loss of Breonna Taylor, Carlos Ingram Lopez, Ahmaud Arbury, George Floyd, and Rayshard Brooks, and many others murdered by police officers and racist vigilantes. Black and brown lives do matter. We stand with Black Lives Matter against institutional racism that has normalized discrimination of people because of their color, culture, sexual orientation, and/or ethnic background from services and institutions we all depend on such as criminal justice, employment, housing, education, and healthcare.  We stand with nonviolent civil activists in their pursuit of social justice. We stand with anti-racist thinkers and teachers around the nation studying, reflecting, and working for change. We pledge to do our small part to continuously inform ourselves and to use the university setting as a safe space to explore difference. We pledge to create alliances on and off campus with faculty, students, local businesses, and community leaders. We will use the study of language, art, literature, film, digital communication, and culture--the curricular pillars of our department--to learn, practice, and teach empathy, and to develop opportunities for educators and students to reckon with historic and current human rights violations on campus and within our local communities. At Texas Woman’s University, we pursue truth and we demand justice. Together, we will build a more just tomorrow.

Jamie Barker 
Ashley Bender
William Benner
Matthew Brown
Gretchen Busl
Brian Fehler
Russell Greer
Jackie Hoermann-Elliott 
Dundee Lackey
Jennifer Phillips-Denny
Gray Scott
Johnathan Smilges
Stephen Souris
Genevieve West

Here is an abbreviated list of actions that we will implement this coming academic year:

  1. Crowdsource related readings and resources for one another on anti-racist practices in the classroom and in the community.
  2. Create a reading group on anti-racist teaching.
  3. Make these discussions part of our regular departmental decision-making and annual planning processes.
  4. Incorporate anti-racist as well as anti-homophobic, -transphobic, -queerphobic language into our mission statement. 
  5. Reflect on the naming of culturally focused courses and the content we use to teach in those courses.
  6. Continue to work with the University to recruit diverse faculty members that better reflect the diversity of our student population. 
  7. Introduce the Outstanding Spanish Award to recognize undergraduate excellence in Spanish Coursework taken at TWU.
  8. Continue curriculum development of the Spanish minor which will train and lead students to become qualified interpreters in order to serve our growing Spanish-speaking communities in Texas in the fields of healthcare, law, and business. 
  9. Reach out to local minority-owned businesses, community leaders, and non-profit organizations to invite them to participate in departmental mock-interviews offered to students each fall.

Page last updated 3:34 PM, June 24, 2022