UNM Sociology Statement on Events at the U.S. Capitol

Departmental News

Posted: Jan 13, 2021 - 12:00am

On Wednesday, January 6, we witnessed a mob of Donald Trump’s supporters invade and occupy the nation's Capital on the day the electoral college votes were being tallied. They acted with violence, destroyed property, and endangered the lives of many.  These individuals are white nationalists with ties to white supremacist groups and we condemn this as a white nationalist riot attacking U.S. democracy. They were encouraged by Trump, and faced little resistance from law enforcement, and as of yet, little consequence.  The government’s response stands in stark contrast to how advocates for racial/ethnic equality and justice, especially peaceful Black and Brown protesters, have been attacked in recent months. Racism and white privilege undergird the disparate responses, and too often the structure of whiteness operates and is upheld without fear of consequence. We condemn the actions of the rioters and of Donald Trump, as well as D.C. law enforcement's inadequate response. We also condemn those law enforcement officers who were complicit and political actors who encouraged this type of behavior through their actions and inactions. 

These events took place where the nation’s laws are constructed and during the process of trying to certify the results of the presidential election. They are yet another reminder of the depths of racial/ethnic inequality and injustice in society, particularly within the legal and criminal justice systems. Black, Indigenous, and Latinx people in this country have faced an ongoing history of racial violence, oppression, and continued community disinvestment.  Police brutality, disproportionate justice system responses (including to the right to protest peacefully), and voter suppression are only a few of the ways Black and Brown Americans are denied full citizenship in U.S. society.   

Communities of color have been denouncing these injustices for years; it only comes as a shock to those with the racial privilege to fail to notice until an insurrection of the nation's Capital occurs. For many, this is an everyday reality.  

As a sociology department, we have the responsibility to address these issues through our teaching, research, and community engaged work. This event exemplifies the very real impact of whiteness as a power structure and provides further impetus for our department to engage in these conversations and for all members of our department (students, faculty, and staff) to continue our learning about these power structures and how we may unintentionally uphold these structures in our own work.

We maintain a strong commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in our graduate and undergraduate education, while also recognizing the need to continually assess and improve our policies, procedures, and climate and to engage in research and teaching that aims to critically analyze and dismantle structural racism and other inequities. We acknowledge the need for our curriculum to deeply interrogate the structures that perpetuate these actions, and the Equity and Inclusion committee will keep this as a top priority. We want to affirm our commitment to these efforts and offer our support to students, staff, faculty, and communities of color at this time. 

  - UNM Sociology Equity & Inclusion Committee  (Eli Wilson, Emily Castillo, Jessica Goodkind, Maricarmen Hernandez, Noah Painter-Davis, and Sofia Locklear)