Literary Arts


The Department of Literary Arts expresses the solidarity of its community in protesting and addressing anti-Black violence, systemic and entrenched racism, and the ongoing legacy of historic racism.

Horrified by the recent murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Sean Reed, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and by so many before them, we share the increasing revulsion, in the United States and throughout the world, for white supremacy, a lethal public health issue that predates and contributes to the COVID-19 pandemic. We share also an abhorrence for an all-too-frequently lethal brutality of police forces who stand-by, over-armed and militarized, presenting themselves as against their own citizenry and communities. Now, too often, these same forces forcibly curtail our shared rights to expression and protest. We call for, and will work for, radical change on numerous fronts, and at every scale, to address these issues. We recognize that, as members of the Brown University community, we have a special obligation to bear in mind, always, our university’s historic ties to the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In this department we are privileged to study, teach, and especially to make literary art in all manner of ways and with resources that should be equally available to everyone. Yet they are not. Racial injustice is at the core of this inequity and we are pledged to do whatever we can to work for a reparative justice. This includes calls and demands to our university, local, and national leadership. We support the students of our graduate program, who have written an open letter to the university’s senior leaders demanding, amongst other things: the immediate disarming of the Brown University Police; divestment of any contractual or consequential arrangements with the Providence Police Department; the reallocation of Public Safety and police funding to more appropriately beneficial ‘first response,’ protection, and care; and the severance of implicated relations with the Kanders’ family as proprietors of the Safariland company. We encourage members of our community to add their voices, in whatever way they deem appropriate in support of their own and their institutional collectivities’ reparative actions. We share in the vision articulated by our departed colleague, poet and University Professor, Michael S. Harper: “One does not build in a vacuum, one builds on the insights and the accomplishments, the strengths, the terrors, the pain of one’s people.”

Members of the Department of Literary Arts

Brown University