History Department
History Department

Anti-Racism Action Initiative (ARAI) Overview

ARAI overview banner
Mission Statement

The Anti-Racism Action Committee works to make anti-racist practices central to the History department’s agenda. We argue that as a community, we cannot simply recommend that our first-generation graduate students and graduate students of color rely on campus resources outside of the department, but we must commit to a discipline-specific action plan. Our committee works to foster a departmental culture that actively dismantles white supremacy and uplifts our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) colleagues financially, intellectually, and emotionally; prioritizes the recruitment and success of BIPOC faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and staff; and offers sustained attention to anti-racist pedagogy.

History

On June 4, 2020, the faculty and staff in the History Department released a statement on George Floyd and their commitment to Racial Justice. They wrote, “We, the undersigned members of the History Department at the University of Texas at Austin, join with communities of conscience all over the world in mourning the senseless public execution of George Floyd by the police department in Minneapolis, MN. As we write, dozens of American cities are experiencing widespread protests, which although mostly peaceful, have led to clashes between police and demonstrators. In Washington, D.C., in particular, the federal government used excessive force to remove peaceful protesters from public spaces of assembly. The lack of presidential leadership, and the frequent inflammatory remarks by the president and his close supporters, have amplified this crisis to a level of violence in our cities not seen since the late 1960s.” To read more of this statement, click here.

In solidarity with Black Lives Matter, the graduate students in the History department distributed our statement, titled: “Graduate Student Anti-Racism Statement and Action Plan,” on June 25, 2020. Here, we outline tangible action items toward changing the material lives of BIPOC graduate students in the History department and how to implement anti-racist practices. To list a few of our goals, we worked to ensure the financial sustainability of BIPOC graduate students in the Department of History, lobbied for the Institute for Historical Studies to organize an annual theme around anti-racism and invite BIPOC scholars to participate, and created a paid Graduate Assistant appointment for BIPOC graduate students interested in spearheading our anti-racist project, titled: The BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Student Recruitment and Community Outreach Graduate Assistant. The original drafters of the statements include: Natalie Cincotta, Augusta Dell’Omo, John Gleb, Rebecca Johnston, Alan Mattay, Brandon J. Render, Adrienne Sockwell, Alex Taft, Micaela Valadez, and Tiana Wilson. To read more about our goals from the initial statement, click here.

A week later, the History faculty responded to our statement and confirmed that they are committed to fostering an anti-racist enviornment in the department. Faculty and administration pledged to carry out the statement’s actions to materially improve the lives of all graduate students, which they argued would inherently impact BIPOC folks. From all of these efforts, the Anti-Racism Action Committee formed to help change the culture of the department. Graduate students Augusta Dell’Omo, Alan Mattay, Brandon J. Render, Adrienne Sockwell, and Tiana Wilson were the founding cohort of Action Committee members in 2020-2021.

How to Get Involved

  1. Check out our list of anti-racism resources and contact us for a recommended reading list on anti-racism practices.
  2. Join our listserv for updates on upcoming events. Please email your name and desired email for communication to antiracismactionut@gmail.com.
  3. UT History Graduate Students interested in serving as the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Student Recruitment and Community Outreach Graduate Assistant, please contact the former GA: Tiana Wilson (wilsontu@utexas.edu) to find out the next application cycle.

Future Events

Forthcoming events to be announced.


*Banner image credits, from left to right: [1] A Black woman holding a sign in the 1960s stating, “Assimilation at UT is a Lie.” [2] A Black man speaking to a crowd on UT’s campus. [3] UT students protest on the Drag, a street that runs parallel to the university campus and was known for its local restaurants, theater, and clothing stores, most of which were open only to white patrons., representing their experiences. [4] Almetris “Mama” Duren being honored for assistance in UT’s integration process. [5] John Chase who is sitting in a classroom on UT’s campus in 1950. UT Texas Student Publications, Inc. Photos, The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin. Banner designed by LAITS Student Technology Assistants.

Contact Us:

Email the Anti-Racism Action Committee in the History Department at: antiracismactionut@gmail.com.