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Global Learning Office Statement on Black Lives Matter, Police Brutality and Racism

Like so many of you, we are outraged by the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks and too many others. The Global Learning Office (GLO) condemns these acts of brutality, the latest in a long line of heinous acts of violence and inequitable policies inflicted upon and directed at Black, brown, indigenous, LGBTQIA+ and other marginalized people. We echo Northwestern University’s condemnation of anti-blackness and police brutality and we vehemently oppose the perpetuation of anti-Black racism, oppression, violence and death that has permeated the history of the United States. We stand in solidarity with protesters, activists and all of those calling for justice, transparency and accountability.

In alignment with the Northwestern Buffett Institute for Global Affairs’ statement on racial discrimination and injustice, we view our mission to foster global learning for undergraduate students at Northwestern as inextricably linked to anti-racism work: we believe broadening global and intercultural perspectives, understanding different social, economic and political systems, and forging connections across the globe are crucial to the work of decolonizing ourselves and our institutions. We continue to be proud of GLO students and alumni who critically engage in global social justice dialogues and actions, and we envision future global learning programming that will provide students with opportunities to engage in anti-racist dialogue and action in partnership with communities around the globe.

We recognize that our words must be followed by intentional work to dismantle the systemic anti-Black racism in our own institutions and communities, and we believe this work starts with ourselves. In conjunction with the Northwestern University community as a whole, we are renewing our commitment to advancing anti-racist practices through diverse hiring practices, staff anti-racism and diversity trainings, and supporting students who identify as Black, indigenous and/or people of color.

As we move forward, we will continue to listen to and learn from students, colleagues and partners whose voices have continually been silenced and devalued. We insist that Black Lives Matter. We promise to hold ourselves accountable for sustained progress toward racial justice and equity, because we believe human rights are integral to the promise and purpose of global learning. We also know that a return to the status quo means, for too many, continued daily threats of violence and oppression. We seek nothing less than to fully achieve our mission of supporting every undergraduate student in connecting and learning across cultural difference through deep understanding of global cultural contexts, systems, histories and impacts.

On that note, we want to acknowledge that this has been an extremely tumultuous spring quarter. The world continues to grapple with a global pandemic, the systemic inequalities it exacerbates and palpable challenges it has inflicted upon our daily lives. For many Northwestern students, this has impacted your ability to pursue planned opportunities. We hope we can support you in studying abroad in the future, when it is once again safe to do so. In the interim, we will all be challenged to participate in new forms of intercultural exchange, and our shared commitment to global engagement will be more important than ever before.

We also want to reiterate that the Global Learning Office is willing to do the hard work of allyship toward justice, both around the world and here at home in the United States. We are interested in collaborating with students and colleagues across Northwestern in creating collective impact and holding one another accountable to our commitments, and thus invite your partnership and welcome your input as to how we can better support our community.