As we are confronted with the emboldened expression of white supremacy characterizing the violence in Charlottesville, VA, this past weekend, I write on behalf of the Executive Committee to renew the ASA's commitment to the eradication of racism. This commitment is vitally a part of our dedication to supporting education, broadly construed, toward the public good.
The ASA has a strong history of advancing knowledge of the constitutive role that white supremacy has played in the formation of the U.S. nation and how it continues to shape its dominant politics and culture. We note that our members are especially well-equipped to provide depth and insight into the renewed legitimization, precipitating conditions, and violent effects of white supremacist ideologies and activities, and recognize as well the need to bolster and proliferate understanding of this complex of characteristics. From research and teaching that brings to bear the founding of the U.S. nation through indigenous dispossession and slavery, to that which elucidates the long-lived history of anti-Semitism and the material significance of monuments and memorials as technologies of national identity formation, and to that which illuminates the role of state power and practices in securing white supremacy's place in U.S. culture and politics, American studies has compelled and must continue to demand the rigorous reckoning with the U.S. nation's pasts and presents necessary to building polities that deauthorize white supremacy.
The work of our members crucially reminds us of the histories and activities of protest and the importance of collective action to the effective redress of white supremacy, manifested as white nationalist terror and otherwise. That white supremacists reportedly targeted Charlottesville for their march in part because the University of Virginia is there, signals the necessity of the suppression of scholarly and pedagogical activity to the success of racism and anti-Semitism. The many people who stood up against them, some of whom were injured and in the case of Heather D. Heyer, killed, enjoin us to acknowledge deeply the difficult and sometimes dangerous and always necessary work of protest and resistance. The ASA will continue to support in every way it can the work and the people who, despite difficulty and risk, speak truth to power.
President, American Studies Association (2017-2018)