We are heartbroken to hear the news of Julie Klassen’s passing. As we enact change at our institutions in this political climate, we must also remember those who worked tirelessly before us. Julie was a longtime active and activist member of Women in German who frequently attended the annual meetings (and helped script the Cabaret!), took care of printing and mailing the Newsletter for several years, co-organized the 1990 annual meeting, and served as president from 2006-2008. She was a supportive and enthusiastic mentor to many younger Wiggies over the decades of her engagement with the organization. We recall Julie’s work and presence at WiG with fondness and admiration. While we are sad to know that we will no longer see her there, we will celebrate her life and her contributions to our profession. We remember and will remain inspired by her sharp intellect, her generosity, her care for and support of junior faculty, her humour, her commitment to feminism, her work as an activist, and her deep love for literature.
We extend our condolences to those who knew her and her work well.
Your WiG Team
In the spirit of all that the Coalition of Women in German stands for, we condemn the actions of white supremacists, including the recent violence that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Tragically, that violence is not limited to the vicious attack on De’Andre Harris and the murder of Heather Heyer. A newspaper headline in the last days read “Racism never died in Virginia,” but in truth, racism is not just isolated to one location, but indeed, remains very much alive throughout the United States. Charlottesville is but one bitter reminder of the ways that white supremacy persists. The threats against Jews, the uttering of Nazi slogans, and the display of Nazi symbols contribute to a climate in which it has become increasingly acceptable to publicly and violently target people of color and Jews.
As North American German Studies scholars, we are compelled to speak out against the threatening behavior and speech of neo-nazis, KKK, and white supremacists in the United States. 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 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 stand against white supremacy and racism.
This is a painful, traumatic time for us, for members, students, and colleagues who are targeted directly, often daily, by racist violence. This has not been the first or the last of such episodes. Cognizant of the inadequacy of words alone in the expression of solidarity and support, we call on our members, as teachers, scholars, and leaders, to name and challenge white supremacy wherever it is manifest, whether in the overt and obvious racisms that took place in Charlottesville or in the everyday.
As allies, we ask you to consider these pledges:
I pledge to do the work. I will put my body on the line during protests if able. I will use my voice to speak against white supremacy, and I will act.
I will remind myself that allyship is a process. I will make mistakes but I will apologize, educate myself and not make them again. I will not let my emotions get in the way of my fight against white supremacy. There is too much at stake.
I will check on people who are impacted by this event more than me, and I will not allow myself to be celebrated for doing something that should be common sense.
As an organization that is committed to promoting feminism, inclusivity and anti-racism, The Coalition of Women in German reaches out to all members in solidarity and support following the results of the 2016 presidential election. In lieu of celebrating the election of our first female president, in the 45th presidency, we face a man who won by promoting misogyny, bigotry, racism, xenophobia, anti-Muslim sentiment, and an exploitative attitude towards the environment.
As feminist educators of German language, culture, and identity, the historical reminders of political intolerance and inhumanity against marginalized groups are all too familiar. We herewith commit to stand in solidarity with all vulnerable and targeted groups in society, especially DACA, LGBTQ, Muslims, Jews, racial minorities, religious minorities, people with disabilities, women, and those threatened by environmental destruction. We will actively work to protect and speak out in support of those who feel vulnerable and unsafe in our society.
Now more than ever, we feel the urgency of feminist work–in the classroom, in our scholarship, at our institutions and in our communities. We urge members to commit to activism, to defend human rights and civil liberties, to stand up to bigotry, and to act as allies to marginalized groups. Contact your local and state representatives to encourage them to engage in actions that promote equality, diversity, and respect in our communities. As an organization, we propose fundraising donations for the following organizations: Planned Parenthood, American Civil Liberties Union, local Black Lives Matter chapters, Standing Rock Sioux (#NoDAPL), Southern Poverty Law Center, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, National Resources Defense Council, and the Council for American-Islamic Relations.