Why The Only Thing We Can Do Is…MAKE A MOVE and TAKE A STAND

American Studies / US Latina/o Studies statement against anti-Black racism, white supremacy, and police power

Few of us could have foreseen what this spring would bring. Covid19 and the state murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd brought into focus the individual and collective traumas wrought by the anti-Black racism that has been central to the history of the United States. Together, we feel anger and rage at the beating of Iyanna Dior and the murders of Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, and Tony McDade, among so many (too many) others. We also remember 23-year old Lt. Richard Collins III and 19-year old Jordan McNair, both of whom were murdered at the University of Maryland. Daily, we see, intimately know, or are made aware of how our communities and our families are trying to manage their lives in the context of racism and white supremacy.

Today, the Department of American Studies and the US Latina/o Studies Program stand in solidarity with those who seek justice and are rising up in protest to demand change and to catapult us into a new world of our collective making, from College Park to Minneapolis, Washington D.C. to Puerto Rico, Turtle Island to Palestine.

We are committed to the dismantling of white supremacy and both personal and state forms of brutality, bias, and aggression. We have done this through the teaching of our courses, advising of our students, and recruiting, mentoring, and graduating of Black and Brown scholars, alongside those who otherwise identify. We have taken a stand and we are committed to the fight from every perspective.

And yet, we too understand that our department has its origins in the contradictions of critique and complicity, a defining feature of U.S. universities. The institutionalization of our department was facilitated by the support of an avowed segregationist, former university president Harry Clifton Byrd. Since the late 1990s, our Department has been redressing some of these issues by recruiting and graduating the College of Arts and Humanities highest numbers of Black PhDs and, in the 2000s, following student advocacy, establishing a US Latina/o Studies minor. But this is not enough. We call upon our university to reduce or end its reliance upon the Maryland Correctional Services as a contractor; to end or reduce its reliance upon the relationship with Prince George’s County and the City of College Park police; to devote resources to invest in the recruitment, support, and retention of Black faculty, staff, and students; to refuse the punitive terms of austerity to come; and to ensure all workers on our campus, from food and facility workers to professional track and graduate student instructors, feel supported in their work/learning environment and safe in their advocacy for better and more equitable working conditions.

We encourage you to join us in taking a stand, to use whatever platform you have to speak out, write it out, shout it out, perform it out, march it out, cook it out or whatever enables you to advance the causes of global liberation. Do what you can but do SOMETHING or as Riri says, “tell your friends to pull up.” 

This time in our lives might best be described by the song below. Ella’s Song was written by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon and performed by the acclaimed a cappella group, Sweet Honey in the Rock to honor the legacy and righteous life-long struggle for justice by African-American civil rights activist and freedom fighter Ella Baker. According to the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights the song is “an anthem, a meditation on the ultimate lesson of the freedom fight passed down generationally by Ms. Ella herself that is meant to be spoken boldly out loud or under one’s breath as the situation demands to empower both purpose and resolve.”

Join American Studies and the US Latina/o Studies Program as we continue to move forward, staying in the struggle for freedom and liberation, whether you speak boldly, loudly, or under your breath….

Ella’s Song

Lyrics and music by Bernice Johnson Reagon

Sung by Sweet Honey in the Rock

We who believe in freedom cannot rest

We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes

Until the killing of black men, black mothers’ sons

Is as important as the killing of white men, white mothers’ sons

That which touches me most is that I had a chance to work with people

Passing on to others that which was passed on to me

To me young people come first, they have the courage where we fail

And if I can but shed some light as they carry us through the gale

The older I get the better I know that the secret of my going on

Is when the reins are in the hands of the young, who dare to run against the storm

Not needing to clutch for power, not needing the light just to shine on me

I need to be one in the number as we stand against tyranny

Struggling myself don’t mean a whole lot, I’ve come to realize

That teaching others to stand up and fight is the only way my struggle survives…

Excerpt of Ella’s Song


 Below is a list of crowd-sourced readings related to the struggle for racial justice – from fighting policing to the uneven impacts of Covid19 – and includes social movement histories, organizing strategies, and analyses of anti-black racism, white supremacy, and police power, among much more. Many of these sources could appear in more than one category! Feel free to email us to make edits and/or to add sources.


These sources provide historical and contemporary analyses of racism and white supremacy and how activists have strategized in response, from the Civil Right Movement to Black Power to Prison Abolition to Black Lives Matter:

  1. Keisha N. Blain, “Eight Recommended Books by Women to Understand the Uprisings,” Ms. 6/2/2020: https://msmagazine.com/2020/06/02/black-lives-matter-eight-recommended-books-by-women-to-understand-the-uprisings/
  2. Marc Lamont Hill @marklamonthill Twitter thread: “Some books that help me make sense of this moment”: https://twitter.com/marclamonthill/status/1267994738680086528?s=09. This is a live Twitter feed recommended by Psyche Williams-Forson
  3. The Black Radical Tradition: A massive PDF compilation of writings about black radical and revolutionary movements in the US in the 20th century: http://libcom.org/library/black-revolutionaries-us-communist-interventions-vol-3
  4. A Historical Understanding Of Today’s Civil Unrest (Interview with Robin D.G. Kelley)  https://www.risingupwithsonali.com/2020/06/01/a-historical-understanding-of-todays-civil-unrest/
  5. Jeanne Theoharis, Komozi Woodard, Dayo F. Gore, eds. Want to Start a Revolution? Radical Women in the Black Freedom Struggle. (Available via JStor from UMD library)
  6. Roderick Ferguson, We Demand: The University and Student Protests https://www-jstor-org.proxy-um.researchport.umd.edu/stable/10.1525/j.ctv1xxt2q.
  7. A list of documentaries “to watch about race instead of asking a person of color to explain things for you”: https://www.docplay.com/articles/10-documentaries-to-watch-about-race-instead-of-asking-a-person-of-colour-to-explain-things-for-you/#.XtgeJ4bGYS4.email
  8. Geographies of Racial Capitalism with Ruth Wilson Gilmore – An Antipode Foundation film; short documentary https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CS627aKrJI&feature=emb_title
  9. On Spotify, FREE audiobook as of 6/4/2020: Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning – The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America  (Unabridged)


Silence and denial are key strategies of white supremacy, and it is crucial that people speak up against racism and talk about how race operates in our daily lives. These sources provide tools for teaching and talking about race and racism.

  1. “Talking About Race” from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture: https://nmaahc.si.edu/learn/talking-about-race.
  2. Racial Equity Tools (Readings on Movement-Building, Pedagogy, and Self-Care for Activists and Allies): https://www.racialequitytools.org/plan/change-process/individual-transformation
  3. Black Lives Matter Resources List: Education: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/#educate
  4. Teach for America: “Resources to Help Teachers Heal, Listen, and Learn” (Links to Various Resources on Pedagogy, Allyship, and Self-Care)
  5. https://www.teachforamerica.org/stories/resources-to-help-teachers-heal-learn-and-listen
  6. JSTOR Daily newsletter: Institutionalized Racism: A Syllabus. How can we help students understand George Floyd’s death in the context of institutionalized racism? https://daily.jstor.org/institutionalized-racism-a-syllabus/
  7. “America uprising: Scholars reflect on the death of George Floyd. Plus, 10 tips for journalists covering protests against police violence” https://journalistsresource.org/studies/society/race-society/scholars-reflect-george-floyd/


Activists and scholars have traced the role that a system of police and imprisonment have played in supporting white supremacy around the world; these sources look at the history of policing and racism, with a focus on U.S. cities:

  1. Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? Police Violence and Resistance in the United States about policing and anti-blackness in Black and Brown communities: FREE ebook as of June 4, 2020 https://www.haymarketbooks.org/…/952-who-do-you-serve-who-d…
  2. Joseph Heathcott, “Race, Planning, and the American City,” we.aggregate.org: http://www.we-aggregate.org/piece/race-planning-and-the-american-city?fbclid=IwAR0Gigz0T25PzZWFAjc0iSjAemH6t4bpibppCxk7A9ulUM3Kc3dylzobyi4
  3. Christina Heatherton and Jordan Camp, eds. Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Lead to Black Lives Matter.  Free copy here: http://aworldwithoutpolice.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/jordan-t-camp-policing-the-planet-why-the-policing-crisis-led-to-black-lives-matter.pdf
  4. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America (Available on JStor via UMD library)


From on-the-street strategies like direct action to providing bail funds for those arrested, from calling legislators in order to demand reforms to joining mutual aid programs, these sources provide tips and links for specific actions one can take:

  1. Community Bail Funds + Legal Help + How to Keep Yourself Safe During Direct Action Protest: https://docs.google.com/…/1CjZMORRVuv-I-qo4B0YfmOT…/preview…
  2. From The Cut — “How to Support the Struggle Against Police Brutality”: https://www.thecut.com/…/george-floyd-protests-how-to-help-…
  3. Protesting Safely (A set of practical tips about what to bring and wear–and what not to bring and wear–to a protest action; from the Instagram of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) https://www.instagram.com/p/CA0jzCdg_vR/?utm_source=ig_embed
  4. Black Lives Matter: List of Petitions to Consider Signing https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/#petitions
  5. Black Lives Matter: List of Authorities to Call and Text 
  6. https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/#text
  7. Black Lives Matter: List of Tips and Resources for Protestors https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/#protesters
  8. Black Lives Matter: Map of Anti-Police Violence Protests https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?ll=9.101946528762284%2C-54.8487811&z=2&mid=1W3fsF5-Mz3_KaBgVt2pU8BDY5GkawUN_


Cultural practices and religious institutions have long been central to social movements; these sources look at everything from poetry to diverse spiritual practices.

  1. Irresistible Podcast — We celebrate the many traditions of movement leaders, cultural workers, and spiritual teachers who remind us to embody the liberation we are pursuing: https://irresistible.org/podcast
  2. Nicole Fleetwood, Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration (Harvard University Press, 2020): Excerpt and images here: https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2020/04/28/creation-in-confinement-art-in-the-age-of-mass-incarceration/


Prison abolition is not just an abstraction, but a complex set of concrete ideas and strategies and towards making a new world.  These sources (and their lists of many more sources!) help us to understand abolitionism today:

  1. Abolition Study from Ashanté M. Reese: https://docs.google.com/…/1odJy1Mj5lsr94xbS_5EHhEYmvl…/edit…
  2. “The Case for Prison Abolition” – DemocracyNow https://www.democracynow.org/2020/5/5/ruth_wilson_gilmore_abolition_coronavirus
  3. “Is Prison Necessary? Ruth Wilson Gilmore Might Change Your Mind” https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/17/magazine/prison-abolition-ruth-wilson-gilmore.html


Racism and white supremacy cause injuries visible and not, and Covid19 demonstrated that health is a racial justice issue. Practices that center the health and wellness of people of color are central to the struggle. These sources provide visions for self-care that are tied to building strength and power to make a racially just world. 

  1. Rebecca Ruiz, “13 mental health resources for black people trying to cope right now” https://mashable.com/article/black-mental-health-resources/
  2. Self Magazine, “44 Mental Health Resources for Black People Trying to Survive in This Country” https://www.self.com/story/black-mental-health-resources
  3. Black Femme Survival Guide https://www.blackfemmesurvival.org/guide
  4. 11 Black Queer and Trans Women Discuss Self-Care https://medium.com/@posttragic/11-black-queer-and-trans-women-discuss-self-care-1661d74160d9
  5. Wren Sanders, “11 Self-Care Tips, According to Expert Queer Healers” https://www.them.us/story/self-care-tips-queer-healers-coronavirus
  6. Jhavia Nicole, “Self Care?!: Black Queer Radical” https://podcasts.apple.com/gy/podcast/self-care/id1401055100?i=1000432453620
  7. Sam Dylan Finch, “A Guide to Self-Care for People with Anxiety” https://letsqueerthingsup.com/2015/02/13/a-guide-to-self-care-for-people-with-anxiety/
  8. La Marr Jurelle Bruce, “The Fun Starts Now” https://www.academia.edu/12785431/The_Fun_Starts_Now_Seven_Notes_Toward_Self-Care
  9. Mia Chae Reddy’s List: Self Care for Black Women https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vQ7AxzXUwOo2w9RfAu_3cHTjraaXIZHUKhH4kerEOIGe75K6XrOMSLwq47PVsIHUw/pub


Activists often discuss the importance of centering the leadership and voices of those most directly affected by a given issue, but that does not mean that everyone else should remain silent. These sources focus on the diverse ways in which people can stand in solidarity and understand the uneven ways in which people are implicated in and affected by racism, anti-Blackness, and white supremacy:

  1. What White Folks Can Do to Fight Anti-Blackness: https://medium.com/…/what-white-people-can-do-for-racial-ju…
  2. Another Way White Folks Can Fight White Supremacy TODAY: https://medium.com/…/5-ways-white-people-can-take-action-in…
  3. Sarah Sophie Flicker, Alyssa Klein, Anti-racism Resources  (May 2020). This document is intended to serve as a resource to white people and parents to deepen our anti-racism work. If you haven’t engaged in anti-racism work in the past, start now. Feel free to circulate this document on social media and with your friends, family, and colleagues:  bit.ly/ANTIRACISMRESOURCES
  4. Julia Wuench, “First, Listen. Then, Learn: Anti-Racism Resources For White People” https://www.forbes.com/sites/juliawuench/2020/06/02/first-listen-then-learn-anti-racism-resources-for-white-people/#4170fa7416ee
  5. White Allyship 101: Resources to Get to Work (a List of Articles, Books, Films, and Videos)  https://www.dismantlecollective.org/resources/
  6. Sisters and Siblings in the Struggle: COVID-19 + Black + Asian-American Feminists Solidarities (Video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=50&v=GnW7nj6OuMw&feature=emb_logo
  7. Black and Asian-American Feminist Solidarities: A Reading List https://www.blackwomenradicals.com/blog-feed/black-and-asian-feminist-solidarities-a-reading-list 
  8. Deepa Iyer, “South Asians and Black Lives” https://medium.com/@dviyer/south-asians-and-black-lives-b30adaba6a42
  9. Take Action: A List of Ways You Can Stand In Solidarity with the Black Community, https://www.adhoc.fm/post/black-lives-matter-resources-and-funds/
  10. Asian and Black Solidarity and Struggle in the Time of Covid-19 (Panel Discussion) 
  1. Guía para Indocumentados Acerca de Cómo Destruir la Anit-Negritud en Casa / Guide for Undocumented People About How to Destroy Anti-Blackness at Home (in Spanish) https://unitedwedream.org/2020/06/guia-para-indocumentados-acerca-de-como-destruir-la-anit-negritud-en-casa/
  2. Koreans and combating anti-black racism https://docs.google.com/document/d/1sE5P1hUwef6amvBWq6u43xgxfGGCt-OAm6ka93owDbo/edit?fbclid=IwAR3qpXtGfaj33GbxGq3j56eozB2tNxZBbCr43qM_o6VFykK1zBN718AjtF4