SSSI Statement on Racism

The SSSI recognizes and abhors racism of all varieties—interactional, symbolic, structural, material, and more.  As we work towards a better society, we also recognize our own shortcomings as an academic society and we strive to create a better intellectual and academic home for scholars and a better world for all.  As an intellectual community we are committed to promoting anti-racist practices in scholarship, service, teaching and program planning.  Accordingly, we support our friends, neighbors, colleagues, and fellow world-citizens as they seek redress and call for justice, raise awareness in their communities, and work to unpack and eliminate the racist ideologies, practices, and processes that have for so long been unaddressed in American society and in which America remains mired.

As painful as recent events have been, none of this is new.  Yet, we believe that individuals, organizations, and institutions can – and should – reflectively address the manner in which race, power, racism, and unchecked privilege produce and reproduce organizational and institutional barriers to living an unencumbered, free, fully participatory life in contemporary society.  Whether those impediments are the elimination of polling stations in city centers, disparate funding for K-12 education based on place, a digital divide, differentially enacted family rights policies, racial or ethnic profiling, or quasi-militarized local police forces, each and every barrier to individual and collective freedom from oppression and suppression must be addressed.

Even before the most recent events have occupied our collective attention, the SSSI has been taking proactive steps to address its perceived legacy of vigorously defending the sociology of dead white men. Foremost in that effort has been the creation of a standing committee on diversity and representation in the society.  The charge of that committee is to produce and promote programming within the society that will not only highlight the minority voices of the society and the larger discipline, but it will also provide a platform on which the society can better promote and support the pursuit of all forms of equality in the intellectual enterprise. Additionally, as the society prepares to organize a limited engagement virtual conference opportunity later this summer (since we had to walk back from our grand plans for a joint international meeting in Pisa, Italy), that virtual conference will feature several sessions for thinking and talking about the various intersections and dynamics at work in current events.

As individuals, and as a scholarly society, we aren’t perfect.  However, we know that our collective efforts can promote positive, systemic change – if we are committed to that end.  Let there be no doubt, we are committed to the end.

– The Executive Council of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction

June 18, 2020