Black Lives Matter - Addressing Our Silence
Dear members of the CUPA community,
We at CUPA have committed an injustice. While the world stood up against police violence and systemic racism, our silence made us complicit in the oppression of members of our community and specifically our Black and Brown students. By not openly and vocally supporting the Black Lives Matter movement as well as organizing for concrete change, we became an unnecessary distraction to our students who are actively fighting for justice and who bear the weight of an unsolicited charge raciale. We want to thank our students for pushing us to do better, and we apologize for not having pledged our support before receiving your open letter. We want to thank Erica Dugué, specifically, for challenging us to grow as an institution and to enact measures to eradicate institutional and systemic racism. While we regret our silence, we do not regret your criticism. Being part of a community also means being able to critique those within said community when they impede the well-being of its members. We must recognize that our non-action has hurt our students.
With this letter, we pledge our unwavering support of the Black Lives Matter movement, we pledge our solidarity with our students, and we pledge our resolve to address systemic racism, regardless of geography, in a meaningful way. As an institution with one foot in the United States and one foot in France, our cultural perspective and role as academics provide us with the unique opportunity and responsibility to put a lens to the systemic injustices facing people of color in both our countries. As America is facing what we hope is a watershed moment, France must also come to terms with its own heavy burden of colonialism and racial bias. The similarities and differences between these two countries and cultures are not only worth exploring, but essential to examine in order to better understand and address the global climate of racism and oppression.
CUPA is committed to making and being a part of active change. We are committed to fostering an inclusive, diverse, and welcoming community. Part of our plan to address our shortcomings will be to include our students in this dialogue as we move forward. We invite our students to share their experiences with us so that we can better understand the challenges and discrimination they face in France and in the United States. As Erica Dugué suggests, we will start by including more information about the historical context of France’s culture of colorblindness and history of white supremacy on our website and engage with this information during orientation. As we refine our plan of action following conversations with students, our Academic Advisory Board, and scholars of color, we will update our website and platforms. While a statement against systemic racism is important, it is only through future concrete actions that CUPA will be able to make good on its promise for change and for a close self-examination if its practices, structures, and curriculum.
We are overwhelmingly proud of each and every student who passes through our door each year. It is an honor to work with you and to help you reach your goals, whatever they may be. We want you to feel equally proud to be a member of the CUPA community.
With gratitude and in solidarity,
 Maboula Soumahoro, Le Triangle et l’Hexagone (France : La Découverte, 2020)