Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

CLACS's response to the current moment

June 4, 2020

CLACS wishes to extend its deepest condolences to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and to the numerous, and often nameless, victims of police brutality. We stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and all those expressing outrage and exercising their right to protest systemic anti-black racism. Racism, inequality, exclusion and violence, both within Latin America and the Caribbean as well as experienced by Latinx and Caribbean diaspora communities, are central concerns of CLACS. Excessive use of force by police, which the recent killings of Floyd, McDade, Botham Jean and Taylor amplified, is but one of the many expressions of structural racism. The other current crisis, Covid-19, has shown the stark ways in which communities of color, including immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean are affected by deep seated inequalities. The designation of many low-paying, low-status jobs as ‘essential’ which made stay at home orders viable, coupled with inequality in access to health care and decent work, has meant that Black and Latinx communities have borne a disproportionate burden of the disease. Migrant workers from Latin America and the Caribbean continue to travel to North America, even as countries have shut down their borders, in order to carry out the ‘essential’ work of picking fruits and supporting farm work.

We acknowledge that anti-black racism is a global phenomenon and not restricted to the United States. Within the Latin American and Caribbean region racism intersects with deep seated inequalities unprecedented in other parts of the world. While many of our programs have explored some of these issues, we hope to encourage more explicit conversations on the manifestations of racism and inequality here and in Latin America and the Caribbean. A key concern of CLACS is to involve Latinx and Caribbean diaspora communities, particularly in Rhode Island, more centrally with our work. We have much more work to do to establish organic relationships with our communities. We plan to strengthen our existing relationship with organisations in Rhode Island and explore new and ethical ways of engaging with other groups and organisations to ensure that our programs are relevant to their concerns. We invite you to reach out to us with your concerns and suggestions as to how we can work together towards critical engagements on issues that are core to our concerns.