We are all saddened and moved by the events of the last two weeks, which have come during an already stressful time. The West African Research Association, and its corollary institution, the West African Research Center, wish to express our strong sentiment of support for ongoing protest, collective action, and anti-racist mobilization within our communities in response to the senseless killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. The ramifications of these terrible events has sparked national and global outrage and has resulted in ongoing protests across the US and many cities around the world in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen Black communities in the western world disproportionately negatively impacted by death and complications from this disease.

WARA stands against racism. We also recognize that approaching the problem of racism without learning and engaging with the history and contemporary study of African Americans, Africa and the diversity of the African Diaspora is almost impossible. For this reason, WARA calls attention at this pivotal moment to the importance of African Studies and African diaspora studies in the fight against racism and social injustice.

While researchers and faculty teach, they are confronted each year with the ignorance that many Americans bring to the classroom about the past, present and future realities of the African Diaspora and the inherited prejudices many unwittingly carry about Africa. These gaps in knowledge affect American attitudes towards Africa and its many diaspora communities.

WARA expresses its very deep concern for our community and particularly for black youth of diverse ethnic and national origins in our country who will be carrying a particularly heavy burden into our classrooms. Likewise, there are many non-African American students who are also experiencing significant angst and discomfort. In this difficult time, all students will need our support. WARA’s community of researchers and faculty have a significant role to play in helping students learn about West Africa and the links between that region’s history, culture, environment, economy, education, etc. and that of the United States. WARA recognizes its particular importance and responsibility in supporting outreach and learning in this regard.

For educational resources, one of our partners, the Smithsonian Institute, shared these
158 Resources to Understand Racism in America