AAPLAC Statement on Anti-Black Racism and Oppression in Higher Education Systems and Institutions

We are an organization of educators, community-based NGOs and agencies in Latin America, the Caribbean and the United States. Our regions and countries are bound by multiple vibrant transnational languages and cultures, by rich Indigenous traditions of intellectual, spiritual and scientific knowledge, as well as resistance, multiple migrations, diasporas, invention and trade.  We also share deadly traditions of militarism and repression as well as institutions and governance marred by fundamental disregard for human rights.

We believe education can empower and transform or it can oppress.

AAPLAC stands with all those throughout the hemisphere who fight anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism and violence1 as well as racism and every form of oppression, including that on the basis of ethnicity, gender, gender expression, socio-economic status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, faith tradition, language, nationality, migration and forced displacement, and more.

We recognize that academic institutions and knowledge-makers have played a key role, past and present, in securing white supremacy and a racial hierarchy across our hemisphere. As a consequence, our own work in immersive, experiential and cross-cultural education must break from a history of alignment with paternalist research, mission work, development, and aid agendas that have reproduced racist attitudes, structures and outcomes. Our own membership and organizational leadership team need to reflect an intentional break from that history in our diversity and practice.

We acknowledge landmark work in this area conducted by the Regional Conference on Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (CRES) and in its final declaration of June 2018, and we seek and support modes of partnership, dialogue, teaching and learning that work to that end.2

We must educate against anti-Blackness and all intersecting modes of oppression even as we identify and eliminate them in our academic institutions and society. This is necessary, not only because of the power higher education wields, but also because of the violence inherent in these intersecting harms. They are mutually reinforcing: “It is neither sufficient nor effective to have protocols that focus only on forms of personal racial discrimination. It is necessary to carry out studies and to promote debates and reflections that will make it possible to eradicate other forms of racism, such as the absence or insufficiency of programs that encourage the entry of students, teachers and other workers of indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants; as well as the exclusions and disqualifications of their languages, histories, lore and knowledge systems; and also the absence or insufficiency of support for research and links with their communities.”3

It is within this context that the board of AAPLAC commits:

  1. To embody diversity, inclusion, equity and anti-racist practice in our daily collaborations, modes of education, and the routines and policies that characterize our academic-, community-, or practice-based settings; to advocate and work toward institutional, teaching and learning partnerships that are truly reciprocal; to advance respect for humanity and the Earth.
  2. To use our annual conference and media to emphasize, promote and exchange research, teaching, programming and other work by Black, Indigenous and people of color and work designed to educate against anti-Black racism, violence and all oppressions.4
  3. To continue to increase and consistently maintain the presence of non-white, non-anglo members on the Executive Board and membership.
  4. To hold monthly meetings of the Board to keep us to continuity, pace and accountability in these goals and other work.
  5. To steadily convert our communications sites and announcements to Spanish and English, consistently incorporate both languages in our work and conferences, and honor the persistence and presence of Indigenous languages.
  6. To expand our networks, recruitment tools and conference postings to more Latin American and Caribbean universities, students, educators and organizations.
  7. To call for and highlight roundtable expertise and submissions in our 2021 conference gatherings on Cultural Awareness and Social Justice (tentative titles):
    1. Police Repression in the Hemisphere and the Role and Responsibility of Higher Education, Intercultural Learning, Student Exchange.
    2. Latin American and Latinx – Views and Visions
    3. Indigenous and Native Nation Initiatives
  8. To advocate strongly at our home institutions—to advance the scholarship, expertise, recruitment, access, presence, and learning in our curriculum and programs of intercultural and international exchange—of Black, Indigenous staff, students and scholars of color from Latin America, the Caribbean and the US.

1. Kihana Miraya Ross, “Call it What it Is: Anti-Blackness: When Black people are killed by the police, “racism” isn’t the right word.” https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/04/opinion/george-floyd-anti-blackness.html

2. The CRES 2018 Final Declaration can be found here:
In Spanish: http://espacioenlaces.org/declaracion-cres-2018/
In English: https://revistas.unc.edu.ar/index.php/integracionyconocimiento/article/view/22651/22276

3. Daniel Mato, “The George Floyd Case and Racism in Higher Education Systems and Institutions.” June 29, 2020. https://www.iesalc.unesco.org/en/2020/06/29/the-george-floyd-case-and-racism-in-higher-education-systems-and-institutions/. Also, Daniel Pascoe Aguilar of Drew University, “Enough!” Future Talent Council, http://futuretalentcouncil.org/blog/2020/06/18/enough-social-justice-is-under-attack-and-not-leading-in-this-moment-is-complicity/

4. Resources. Mato provides several important reports and resources for this work that we offer here:
Cited in Mato “The George Floyd Case.” In 2018, the UNESCO Chair on Higher Education and Indigenous and Afro-descendent Peoples, in collaboration with more than twenty universities of ten Latin American countries, launched the Initiative for the Eradication of Racism in Higher Education, whose website, among other useful resources to promote reflection and debate on racism in higher education, offers seventy micro-videos, twenty short and easy-to-read texts, and numerous publications on experiences in this field: http://unesco.untref.edu.ar/. Other helpful resources compiled by Mato and published with his article: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) / Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean (FILAC) (2020), Indigenous peoples of Latin America – Abya Yala and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: tensions and challenges from a territorial perspective, Project Documents (LC / TS.2020 / 47). Available: http://www.filac.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Los-Pueblos-Indigenas-de-Am%C3%A9rica-lLatina-y-la-Agenda-2030-para-el-Desarrollo-Sostenible.pdf)

Our regions are bound by multiple vibrant transnational languages and cultures, by rich Indigenous traditions of intellectual, spiritual and scientific knowledge, as well as resistance, multiple migrations, diasporas, invention and trade.

Our own work in immersive, experiential and intercultural education must break from a history of alignment with paternalist research, mission work, development, and aid agendas that have reproduced racist attitudes, structures and outcomes.

We commit to advance the scholarship, expertise, recruitment, access, presence and learning of Black and Indigenous staff, students and scholars of color from Latin America, the Caribbean and the US.