Social Justice Advocacy Statements

August 28, 2020

It has been extremely disheartening to hear this week of the shooting of a black man, Jacob Blake, by police in Kenosha, Wisconson. Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times while his children watched in the car he was attempting to get into, resulting in his paralysis and current critical condition due to his wounds. Disheartening, because these events of police violence toward black men seemingly happen on a regular basis despite the attention that has been placed on these types of events through the anti-racist movement in our country. Even more disturbing about the Kenosha shooting was that it was followed by a white teenager with a rifle shooting and killing two protesters. The shooter identified himself as a vigilante protector against the crowd protesting Jacob Blake’s shooting. Police did not immediately respond when the white teenager walked away after the shooting, allowing him to escape. These events can be interpreted as acts of racism in several discouraging ways: acts of violence by white supremacists; further evidence of the continuance of horrific violent outcomes due to systemic racism in our society; and the disproportionate use of violence by police toward black men in our country.

It is disturbing to know that recent polls are showing diminished support by white Americans, post George Floyd killing, for the Black Lives Matter movement  (https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/support-for-black-lives-matter-surged-during-protests-but-is-waning-among-white-americans/). Yet, the Jacob Blake shooting and the shooting of protestors in Kenosha, Wisconsin indicate that racism and police brutality continue to be an evil evidence that racism and white supremacy are alive and thriving in the U.S.

In the face of these recent events combined with the lessened attention and effects on white Americans, concern grows that many white people may be viewing racism and violence against blacks at unchangeable norms. Thus, the Educational Psychology Department at UNL reaffirms our resolve and commitment to opposing racism and police brutality toward black people in our country. We are committed to working toward making a difference by working to overcome injustice and oppression due to race. We are also committed to exploring white privilege and its influence on racism. To that end, we are dedicated to working toward the values of inclusiveness, safety, and equity for our students, faculty, and staff as well as all people in four areas:

a)     Examination of our curriculum with the goal of integrating anti-racism content in our educational psychology courses.

b)     Recruitment and retention of faculty, staff, and students who represent racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity.

c)     Increasing our knowledge and awareness of anti-racism through common reads/book clubs, speakers, and continued dialogue on the topic of anti-racism

d)     Being more transparent about our support of the promotion of anti-racism in our department, college, university, and nationally.

Michael Scheel

Chair, Department of Educational Psychology