WiG Leadership Statement: Black Lives Matter

We, the leadership of the Coalition of Women in German, condemn the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery amidst numerous other heinous acts of racist, white supremacist violence. We would like to express our condolences to their loved ones and affirm our support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

We want to express our solidarity with the protesters demanding justice and with our Black colleagues, students, and community members. The global pandemic was already setting into greater relief the inequities faced by People of Color, from horrific anti-Asian and anti-immigrant violence to stark racial inequalities with regard to access to medical care. These events further remind us of the work all of us, and especially white people, have to do in order to create a truly equitable society. 

To our non-Black members: If you are standing by, thinking that this situation does not apply to you, you are allowing structural inequalities to persist. It is never enough to simply not participate in overtly racist acts; it is about giving up your privilege and working to dismantle systems of oppression. As demonstrated most recently by Amy Cooper’s false report to the police, the racist anxieties of white women have long been central to the enabling of white supremacy. Thus, as members of a feminist organization with a majority white membership, we must commit ourselves to anti-racist action. 

Both as an organization and as individuals affecting our own spheres of influence, we must fight against all behavior that works to uphold systemic oppression and normalize injustice. Below is a list of resources to educate ourselves and take action.

Act Now: Call for Justice for George Floyd

Minnesota Freedom Fund

Critical Resistance’s Abolition Organizing Toolkit

Anti-racism resources for white people

An Anti-Racist Reading List

Resources collected by Dr. Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility

Anti-Oppression LibGuide – New York Institute of Technology

Information for white parents having “the talk” about race with their children

WiG Leadership Statement after Hanau

In recognition of the intertwined histories and present manifestations of antisemitism, anti-Muslim and anti-Black racism, xenophobia, heteropatriarchy and white supremacy and as feminist scholars within German studies committed to intersectional understandings of social justice, we condemn the violence that has again come to a head in the last week. We are sorrowed by the attacks at two Shisha bars in Hanau and the resulting deaths.

Once again, a violent attack has made painfully visible the ways in which white supremacy and heteropatriarchy continue to wield power in our society. These attacks demonstrate the entanglements of gendered anti-immigrant racism and misogyny. The nine victims of this rampage were part of Turkish, Kurdish, and Roma communities in Hanau.

We express our solidarity with the families of those murdered and with immigrant communities in Germany. We note that our solidarity with the targets of xenophobic racism must include a commitment to fighting racism in all its forms as well as a refusal to normalize racist ideology, misinformation, and far-right radicalization on social media and in our societies. 

Many are asking how this could happen in a country with fairly strict gun regulations. While we affirm our support for the proper regulation of firearms, it is clear that such actions are not enough. Ending the violence of white supremacist heteropatriarchy is a task that requires our broad interventions through our daily actions and interactions; through education; through the speech and discourse we normalize in our culture, whether through art, literature, social media, news media; and through our organized activism.

As a feminist organization, we are committed to teaching and scholarship that challenges interlocking systems of oppression and power. Feminist goals must include the end of racism and white supremacy. The systems that promote and rely on racism; sexism; homophobia; transphobia; ableism; colonialism; and other forms of exploitation, hatred, and exclusion are interlinked and often support one another. We express our solidarity with all groups who fight these systems of oppression.

This continues to be a painful time for our members, students, and colleagues who are targeted directly, often daily, by racist, Islamophobic, antisemitic, xenophobic, and misogynist violence – whether as physical threat or verbal aggression. We express our solidarity with all of you. 

Individual acts respond to a social context, one in which hate speech enables and promotes violent actions. We call on our members, as teachers, scholars, and leaders, to name and challenge white supremacy and heteropatriarchy wherever it is manifest, whether in everyday speech, social media, political discourse, or elsewhere. We cannot allow violent speech to seem “normal.” We cannot allow an atmosphere that enables and normalizes such horrific violence to continue.

Nominations for Women in German Vice President/President-Elect

We are sad to announce that for health reasons, Elizabeth Bridges has had to step down as our President of WiG. We are grateful for and inspired by her committed and energetic leadership over the last years. Sad as we are to see her step down early, we support her in taking any necessary steps to focus on her health and well-being. 

In accordance with our bylaws, the steering committee has appointed our VP/President Elect, Helga Thorson, to move on to her position as President early; we are grateful for her willingness to take this step. We will thus hold an early election for a new VP/President Elect, for a term to run from October 2019 – 2021 as VP, and 2021-2023 as President. Please consider nominating someone for this position or indicating your own willingness to be a candidate. Requirements for the office are listed below:

1) Current membership in WiG, with history of active participation in the organization (for example, as Steering Committee member, member of Newsletter or Yearbook staff, prize committee member, regular and involved conference participant, etc.) and attendance of the annual WiG conference within the last seven years.

2) Tenure at their institution with senior rank (at least associate professor).

3) Institutional support (for travel to conferences, secretarial support).

4) A commitment to supporting WiG’s mission as expressed in its mission statement.

Duties include:

•        The Vice President serves for two years in preparation for assuming a two-year term as President.

•        As VP they support and advise the President and shares responsibilities for organizing/conducting searches (Treasurer, Yearbook coeditors, NL editor, Web Coeditor etc.); the VP shares other responsibilities as needed, such as facilitating communication between annual conferences and reviewing applications for the Zantop Graduate Travel Award.

•        The Vice President is expected to attend the virtual May WiG leadership meeting, the pre-conference WiG leadership meeting as well as the entire conference each year of tenure as VP and President.

•        Once President, the candidate will guide WiG in the development of its vision and mission for the future,  facilitate  long-range planning and effective use of resources, develop and implement new initiatives as needed (e.g. specific fundraising or website projects), ensure communication between all organs of the organization, represent WiG, and network and collaborate with other relevant organizations (attendance at professional conferences of these organizations is strongly encouraged), maintain a calendar of events and record of WiG committees and projects, all in consultation with the Vice President and other WiG officers, particularly the steering committee.

Procedure:

If you wish to nominate someone, you MUST first contact that person to make sure that she/he will accept the nomination, is in a position to fulfill the requisite responsibilities, and is willing and able to attend the requisite WiG leadership meetings and conferences.

Once all candidates have been nominated to the Steering Committee, candidates will be asked to prepare a Candidate Statement which will be distributed to the Membership before on-line voting opens on August 25th..

Please send names and institutional affiliation for nominees by August 10th to the WiG steering committee at steering@womeningerman.org .

We expect elections for VP/President Elect to begin on September 1st. In order to vote, you must be a current WiG member by the end of August. If you haven’t renewed your membership for 2019, we therefore encourage you to do so at https://womeningerman.roundtablelive.org .

All best, 

The WiG Steering Committee

Coalition of Women in German Steering Committee Statement on Islamophobic Violence and the Murders in Christchurch

In recognition of the intertwined histories and present manifestations of antisemitism, anti-Black racism, xenophobia, heteropatriarchy, and white supremacy –

And as feminist scholars within German studies committed to intersectional understandings of social justice –

We condemn the Islamophobia, and all forms of white supremacy and racism, that have manifested in this last week in the murders at Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand, even as we mourn the victims. This is not an incident that has occurred apart from our own location in North America. The 2015 shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, the 2018 shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and the Christchurch murders are all part of white supremacist violence. This violence is not isolated to these individual acts of terror, but rather, a part of a wider structure of racist violence that is enabled and promoted by racist, antisemitic, Islamophobic, and xenophobic speech, microaggressions, policies, and policy proposals.

We reiterate: As feminists, it is important to speak out in moments of oppression. We know that this violence is not new, but the murders last week in Christchurch painfully illustrate the ways in which white supremacy and heteropatriarchy continue to wield power in our society. We have joined in public protests, and we will continue to protest and speak out. We recognize that silence becomes complicity.

As a feminist organization, we are committed to scholarship that challenges interlocking systems of oppression and power. We recognize that feminist goals must include the end of racism and white supremacy. We recognize that the very existence of German studies in North America cannot be separated from a history of settler colonialism. We recognize that systems that promote and rely on Islamophobia; racism; xenophobia; sexism; homophobia; transphobia; ableism; colonialism; antisemitism; and other forms of exploitation, hatred, and exclusion are interlinked, and often support one another. For our members, students, and colleagues who are targeted directly, often daily, by these forms of oppression and violence – whether as physical threat or verbal aggression: we mourn with you and express our solidarity with all groups who work against these systems.

We once again call on our members, as teachers, scholars, and leaders, to name and challenge white supremacist heteropatriarchy wherever it appears, whether in everyday speech, social media, political discourse, or elsewhere. We cannot allow violent actions, speech and policies to become “normal!” We must interrupt a social context that enables such violence.