By: Ananya Roy, Director, Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin

Earlier this year, we launched the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin with a mandate to tackle the color-lines of the 21st century. Focused on the research themes of evictions, financialization, and mass incarceration, and in alliance with social justice movements, we create scholarship, art, and collective action to tackle divides and dispossessions in global Los Angeles and in cities around the world. Our work also includes an examination and transformation of the institutions through which wealth is converted into agendas of power, notably philanthropy and the university.

In the wake of a presidential election in the United States that has ratified white power, racial-ethnic exclusion, casino capitalism, and misogynistic violence, we renew our mission to identify key front-lines of research and action. If we started with the aspiration to organize knowledge to challenge inequality, we recognize that we now must also build power to challenge violence, including state-sponsored violence against targeted bodies and communities. With this in mind, we pledge our commitment to the following:

– To continue our work on racial inequality—which as we have previously argued cannot be reduced to calculus of economic disadvantage and which is inextricably linked to patriarchal power—but with an additional focus on white supremacy, its doctrines of racial separation, and their codification in policy and statecraft.

– To continue our work on decolonizing academia but with the revivified necessity to mobilize the legitimacy and authority of the public university to stand with, and stand for, vulnerable students and their families.

– To address the expansion of social and spatial technologies of racialized violence by extending our research to include geographies of fortification as well as counter-movements of sanctuary, solidarity, and restorative justice.

– To identify and fight the rollback of civil rights, such as the erosion of the Voting Rights Act and the resultant effects of voter suppression.

– To continue our work developing new pedagogies, but with an additional focus on building the next generation of political leaders able to tackle the stockpiling of wealth and influence.

– To situate these processes in a global context of racial capitalism and to learn from research centers, organizations, and movements in the global South that have experience challenging vicious programs and policies of austerity, militarism, and virulent nationalism.

We look forward to joining in the myriad struggles and endeavors that together form a new front-line of social justice in the United States and worldwide. We invite you to join us in our efforts.

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