A group of white faculty members at Candler School of Theology has written and published a statement affirming Black lives, confessing complicity in white supremacy and systemic racism, and committing to actively dismantle these systems through changes in the school’s curriculum, culture, and community.
The statement, titled “Affirming Black Lives and Confessing White Supremacy: A Call to Action for Candler’s White Faculty” currently has 32 signatories and 42 supporting signatories from Candler faculty, emeriti faculty, and staff.
“It is imperative that we not only affirm the value of Black life, but that we also confess our complicity with white supremacy and work to divest ourselves and our institutions of it,” the document reads. “We know that such statements ring hollow without accompanying action. And so, we also name how we will live into these commitments, with specific ways in which we plan to take action at Candler and beyond.”
Among the action items listed are establishing faculty reading groups focusing on the construction of whiteness and books on race by Black and other authors of color; advocating for time at monthly faculty meetings to discuss and apply anti-racist pedagogical practice; implementing more frequent reviews of core courses to ensure diversity of sources and assignments; naming disparities and working toward a more equitable distribution of leadership; amplifying the voices and concerns of Black faculty, staff, and students; and supporting Black leadership and events led by Black colleagues and students.
Published on an Emory University ScholarBlog website, the statement is reinforced with a resources section and an accountability tracker, where faculty will post updates on the actions pledged in the statement. The Candler and Emory communities are invited to continually engage with the site through the comments section and to share about it on social media using the hashtag #CandlerAction.
The drafters note that the statement is intended to be a living document, as new requirements and responses may surface over time. “As white faculty members, we are committed to doing our own work and to being accountable for it,” wrote Associate Professor of Christian Ethics and Conflict Transformation Ellen Ott Marshall and Associate Professor of Religious Education Jennifer Ayres, who convened the group that drafted the document. “We understand this statement to be part of an ongoing conversation.”