An Important Message for the English Department Community

Dear English Majors, Minors, and Graduate Students,

I write to you today on behalf of the English Department, and along with our other departmental leaders, to affirm unequivocally:  Black Lives Matter.

Yesterday, I attended the BREATHE event sponsored by the Office of Diversity, an event which was attended by more than 450 members of the wider UIC community, where there was an opportunity to share our grief and despair, our hurt and our anger. It is important at this moment to join together to deplore the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others; to repudiate the systemic, police and state violence against black and brown people in our communities; and to acknowledge the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities of color in our nation. It is equally critical, as Jane Rhodes, the Head of Black Studies at UIC put it, to figure out how we can "mobilize our knowledge for change."

As storytellers and students of literature, you will have an important role to play in voicing those demands for change and in moving our mind's imagination toward making that better world.  One of the greatest African American writers of the 20th Century, James Baldwin, once wrote, "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced."  Now is the time to grieve and to feel the anger we feel. But in the tomorrows ahead, we must face the challenge of what must be changed and work together to make that change a reality.  Please take good care of yourselves and one another, and let us know what you might need and how we might support you through this very, very difficult time.

Lisa A. Freeman
Head of English

Anna Kornbluh
Associate Head

Robin Reames
Director of Undergraduate Studies

Peter Coviello
Director of Graduate Studies