News & Events

Department Statement on Black Lives Matter

Black lives matter.

The faculty of the Sociology Department at the University of North Carolina Greensboro supports the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the ongoing revolts against police brutality and anti-Black racism. We support these uprisings against continued oppression, state violence, and institutional abuses of power. We add our voices to the many who are demanding accountability and the defunding of a militarized law enforcement apparatus. Only after such victories are won will Black lives truly be made to matter. These changes must not be symbolic or temporary, but rather significant advancements towards real racial equality.

We mourn George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Iyanna Dior, Tony McDade, and the countless others who have fallen victim to racist state violence. We recognize that there are many cases of these horrific tragedies that do not gain national attention, including the murder of Greensboro resident Marcus Deon Smith by local police. Acts of white supremacist violence legitimized by the state are a constant, and our own city is no exception. It was, after all, here in 1979 where the American Nazi Party and the Ku Klux Klan fired on a crowd of workers and organizers demonstrating against white supremacy during the Greensboro Massacre. The police were nowhere to be found. Those who are ostensibly entrusted with our protection have repeatedly and consistently violated this trust, murdering, brutalizing, and harassing Black people with impunity for far too long. These acts of racial terror are not flaws in a functioning system; rather, they are symptoms of a society built upon oppression, manipulation, and exploitation.

We live in a city that once played a prominent role in the fight for civil rights. From Simkins v. Cone to the 1960 Woolworth sit-in, our city has historically embodied both the experience of and struggle against racism in this country. This moment is no different. From the food deserts and educational inequalities that plague Greensboro to residential segregation and racist police attacks in our own streets, we stand with all victims of this regime of racist terror and with all those fighting for a more just and equal society.

The ongoing uprising in all fifty states and, indeed, across the globe, is a demand for a better future. The past as well as the present teaches us that we cannot overcome white supremacy without struggle. Because of this, we must realize that the Civil Rights Movement is not merely contained in history books; it is the struggle unfolding before our very eyes in the streets.

Victims of police terror deserve justice. Though we cannot know in advance what the current round of struggle will achieve, we know that, either way, there will be much left to do. Only through struggle will we make progress, leaving unaccountable police departments where they belong: in the dustbin of history. When we say, “Black lives matter,” we really mean that Black lives must be made to matter, because right now, from the vantage point of the American state, they clearly do not. That is why we stand in solidarity with those working to make Black lives matter. It is a long road, but we know it is possible; it must be possible.