SSSR Antiracism Statement
We are living through a political period in which racial justice movements aimed at combatting police abuse against African Americans have been unlike any other in recent American history. In every state, Americans belonging to different racial/ethnic heritages, citizenship status, age and generation backgrounds, religious faiths, and other meaningful identities demonstrated in solidarity with African Americans by protesting their denial of constitutional rights, principally at the hands of law enforcement. These movements went beyond the U.S. as marginalized groups and those that stand in solidarity with them protested the exploitation and brutality of the poor, powerless, and marginalized in nations around the world. At the same time, we have also noticed the disproportionate health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on Black and Brown communities, particularly the poor among them, further highlighting the disparate qualities of White, Black, Latinx and Native American life in this country. As an organization committed to the social scientific study of religion, these recent events have made us even more cognizant of the profound and pernicious impacts of systemic racism on non-white groups and our responsibilities as an organization.
These events have motivated us to think about what role we can play in combatting racial inequalities in the U.S. and other countries, in our institutions, and in our own organization. As scholars of religion, we acknowledge that religion has played a crucial and double-edged role in contemporary developments. Large bodies of research have shown connections between religious background and racist attitudes. However, we also know of scholarship illustrating how religion can motivate action on behalf of social equality and racial justice.
Over the past few years, SSSR has become aware of the lack of racial diversity within our organization and we have begun efforts to rectify it. In 2018, Korie Little Edwards, the organization’s first Black president, led efforts to develop a Strategic Plan for SSSR. SSSR committed $ 100,000 to this plan that has put into place a variety of policies since 2019 to create an inclusive and welcoming community for all social science scholars of religion, including international scholars and scholars of color. We understand that integrating the experiences of African Americans, Latinx, and other marginalized groups into the work and scholarship of SSSR allows us to present a more complete picture of how religion shapes lives, structures, and processes in the U.S. and worldwide. We are committed to becoming more diverse.
As members of SSSR’s Council, we exhort members to integrate the study of race and racism as well as antiracist pedagogy into courses and include work on and by people of color. We encourage each other to break out of our silos and expand our frameworks and research agendas to include the study of non-white groups and non-Christian religions in the United States and around the world. Finally, we would like to persuade our members to support antiracist work on our campuses and in our wider societies.