Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Statement on Recent Events from Michael G. Hanchard

June 4, 2020

by MICHAEL G. HANCHARD, Gustave C. Kuemmerle Professor; Chair, Department of Africana Studies

The most recent wave of extrajudicial killing and injury by police officers and white citizens of unarmed black people have left those of us who are committed to racial justice with stress, anxiety, anger and fatigue. The violence, mayhem and destruction of property in many cities across this country has awakened some people to the reality that racism is more than a set of ideas or interpersonal dynamics. Most racisms are ultimately systemic and embedded in the laws and practices of the most powerful institutions in this country. Policing, especially the unequal treatment by black and brown people at the hands of local police departments, is perhaps the most obvious example of institutional racism.

Our community of faculty, students and administrators of the Department of Africana Studies is familiar with the deeper history of police brutality in this country, as well as the histories of governmental and popular violence circulating amongst Afro-descendant populations in places like Britain, Colombia, Brazil and France. Africana Studies remains committed to sharing our knowledge with members of the Penn community and supporting those who are engaged in anti-racist mobilization, and the unequal impact of the COVID-19 virus among the most vulnerable and marginalized populations.


This is a personal statement does not represent the views of the Department of Africana Studies or the University of Pennsylvania.