Reaffirming GRSJ principles amid emboldened public white supremacy

By: Emmanuelle Andrews and JP Catungal

September 7, 2017

In light of recent, highly publicized declarations of white supremacy, in Coast Salish territories as in Charlottesville, we at the Social Justice Institute affirm our commitment to anti-racist, feminist, trans, queer and anti-colonial politics, placemaking and knowledge production. We firmly denounce the violent, misogynistic, settler colonial, racist, anti-black, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, xenophobic and anti-Semitic acts by neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, the alt-right and white supremacists in Charlottesville, as well as their emboldening of so-called far-right groups in Vancouver and the rest of Canada. In naming these multiple sites together, we attend to their connections and continuities and refuse ideologies of exceptionalism or discreteness. We also caution against treating these acts as anomalous or as surprising. We understand Charlottesville and subsequent efforts as examples of the continued persistence of white supremacy, which has never gone away as it exists in multiple forms. It comes into being institutionally in laws and policies; interpersonally in microaggressions and bodily violence; affectively in fear and anger; and materially in ill health and precarity. At the same time that we name spectacular and heavily mediated irruptions of white supremacy in the form of white supremacist gatherings in public space, we also insist that white supremacy’s other iterations be recognized for the violence that they visit upon many marginalized communities.

At UBC and in so-called Greater Vancouver, we reside, work, play, love and form communities on unceded Coast Salish territories. Many of us are here, in our various capacities, in part because of the ongoing settler colonial dispossession of Indigenous sovereignty over lands, relations and bodies. We recognize the academy as a space that reproduces gender, sexual, cisheteronormative, ableist, settler colonial, anti-poor and white supremacist forms of normalization and social exclusion. At the Social Justice Institute, we recognize that part of our ongoing responsibility is to work against these marginalizations and to recognize, examine and disinvest from our own complicities in them. Whilst the utilisation of tiki torches may have mobilised many into acts of resistance, we know how this can easily be turned into rhetoric that gives rise to the white exceptionalist; therefore, our work must also take place in everyday acts of resistance, survivance and celebration. The Social Justice Institute remains a place that is firmly committed to battling oppression, which includes placing value on intersectional and decolonial forms of knowing, on naming and speaking out against injustice, and on questioning the faith that we place on institutions that are supposed to protect marginalised peoples. We aim to create a space for students, faculty and workers to engage in these issues. We look to the creation of a world that not only problematizes the status quo, but also works toward social transformation altogether.