We support the statements of professional organizations of which our faculty are members, as well as that of the American Historical Association, which offers a valuable account of the historical basis for the crisis we all face.
In the statement of ASEEES, we would single out these paragraphs as expressing well the role we hope to play as educators:
The Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) condemns the brutal killing of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Darnesha Harris, Tamir Rice and many others. We further condemn the decision of local police to resort to coercion in response to the protests and the inflammatory actions by the US administration. We stand in solidarity with Black and other marginalized communities in this moment of collective action against systemic violence directed at people of color by police. We recognize that the dehumanization directed against Black people in the US is a legacy of our history of slavery and a horrifying consequence of racism.
As scholars and students of Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasian history and society, we have gained intimate knowledge of the atrocities committed by authoritarian regimes, which have deployed military and secret police to deprive people of their rights of association and expression. But we also study people who engage in courageous individual and collective acts against such regimes, in some cases leading to revolution. Crucially, we are familiar with rulers who declare that protestors deserve the coercion used against them and squash the protests, leading to more authoritarianism. This should never happen in a democracy.