Statements on the History of Racial Violence in the United States
The NIU History Department endorses the American Historical Association's March 2021 statement deploring the recent incidents of violence and harassment aimed at Asians and Asian Americans. This hostility against particular groups because of their ethnic origins — expressed via cultural stereotypes, scapegoating, physical aggression, and bloodshed — has deep roots in our nation's past. To stem this persistent form of inequity and hate, we would do well to understand its history.
The NIU History Department also endorses the American Historical Association's June 2020 statement urging a reckoning with the United States' deplorable record of violence against Black Americans, a record that stretches back centuries. The killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers stands within this sordid national tradition of racial violence. It is past time for Americans to confront our nation's past, using insights from history to inform our actions as we work to create a more just society.
Our Contributions to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives
- Teaching about the history of race, racism, and anti-racism is central to the department's mission. Dozens of History courses at all levels of study contribute directly to NIU's Human Diversity baccalaureate requirement.
- The History major, as well as the History M.A. and Ph.D. programs, prioritize the study of diverse peoples and places in the human past, requiring students to take coursework that engages them with the histories of multiple world regions.
- Our faculty work closely with—and oftentimes lead—the central hubs on campus for expanding diversity in the curriculum and supporting Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) students and other underrepresented groups. We contribute courses and other programming every semester to the Center for Black Studies, the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies, the Center for Southeast Asian Studies and the Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality.
- Many of our faculty members conduct vital research on the history of race and racism, both in the United States and on the global stage. Their publications and their public history projects are on the cutting edge of historical knowledge-making about how racial injustices are perpetuated and challenged over time.
- Our faculty and students are also on-campus leaders in working to make NIU a more inclusive and equitable campus. Some recent examples:
- In collaboration with the English department faculty, Professor Natalie Joy is working to develop a land acknowledgment statement for the university and to increase awareness of Native Americans on campus and in the region.
- Professor Ismael Montana serves as chair of the NIU Faculty Senate's Ad Hoc Committee on Social Justice.
- History professor Beatrix Hoffman helped found Faculty Advocates for Undocumented Students at NIU and works tirelessly to support undocumented Huskies.
- Professor Christina Abreu spearheaded "Voces of the Pandemic" at NIU, an oral history project that preserved the experiences and struggles of the Latinx community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Professor Eric Hall co-led a webinar on allyship for MAC coaches, administrators, and staffers and serves on the Athletic Department's Diversity Integration Committee.
- M.A. student Anna Henderson represents the department on the university's Anti-racism Collective.
Our Ongoing Work to Improve
- In 2018, the History Department created an Equity Task Force (ETF) charged with working to improve our department's climate for underrepresented student groups. The ETF carried out a climate survey among undergraduate majors and minors in 2019-2020 and continues working to implement action items based on its findings.
- The ETF includes both faculty and student representatives. It advises the department on a variety of matters related to inclusion and anti-racist best practices and helps to organize events such as faculty brown bags on equity in the classroom.
- We are committed to prioritizing diversity in hiring at both the departmental and the university level.
- We are committed to fostering diversity in our graduate programs. Following an evaluation of frequent barriers to graduate admission, in 2020 we eliminated the GRE requirement for our M.A. and Ph.D. programs.
- We are committed to improving mentoring and alumni/ae connections for BIPOC students.
- We are committed to continually improving our pedagogy to make our classrooms more inclusive and equitable, and our curriculum more explicitly anti-racist.
- We are committed to hosting lectures and seminars given by outside speakers who reflect the diversity of our student body.
How You Can Help Support Equity and Inclusion
- Current History undergraduates and graduate students can participate in the work of the Equity Task Force. Contact Professor Eric Hall if you are interested in serving.
- We welcome input and ideas from current students as well as History alumni. Please send your thoughts to the History Chair Valerie Garver.
- Donate to support scholarships and prizes in the History Department. Many of these awards are aimed at students with financial needs, and they help to encourage diversity in the major.