Global Development Studies and Police Violence

The Global Development Studies Program at UVA condemns the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Ahmaud Arbery, Elijah McClain and many other Black and Brown people by US security forces. As a program, we state unequivocally that Black lives matter. 

Racist violence is not unique to the US, though it has taken particularly virulent forms here at many junctures in our history. We recognize that fighting white supremacy is a global project, requiring the coordination of strategies, sharing of resources, and a commitment to mutual moral and political support among anti-racist groups.  

Recent video recordings of police violence in the United States are horrifying. They should not surprise us.   As survivors, activists and scholars have been telling us, controlling Black and Brown bodies – and the thoughts, actions and relations associated with them – has always been central to policing in the United States.  From slave patrols, on to chain gangs and lynchings, and through to racial profiling, mass incarceration, and the militarization of police forces, policing as an institution has never strayed far from this core mission.  Black and Brown people living in the U.S. have resisted control in creative and courageous ways since the country’s founding, as the recent passing of John Lewis reminds us.  Some of our students carry on this tradition of resistance today.  More of us need to join them, particularly those of us who by race, gender, class and other forms of privilege have benefited psychologically and materially from current social structures.  

Though policing is in the headlines now, racist violence is made manifest in myriad ways: in political and economic institutions that generate persistent racialized inequalities, in glaring racial disparities in the quality of housing and health care available to Black and Brown people, and in the form and content of education, including at UVA. GDS commits to resisting control, exploitation and abuse of Black and Brown people on Grounds and off, within the US and globally, using the tools available to us at the University.  In the first instance, these tools include teaching, researching and elaborating strategies for resisting white-supremacist policing. We, as a program, can also show up to protests, hearings, budgeting meetings and other events organized and led by Black and Brown neighbors at the University, in Charlottesville, and around the globe.  We can support Black and Brown communities as they build new institutions for assuring collective well-being, and new mechanisms for accountability for those in power.  We can challenge white supremacy withinthe US, and seek to recognize and challenge racism in development theory and practice in settings around the globe.   We can offer material resources to those who are creating new ways of being together that challenge rather than reproduce racial hierarchies. Crucially, we must offer emotional and spiritual support to Black and Brown friends when they grow weary from their own efforts. 

This commitment must be enduring, but must be made tangible today. Looking forward to the 2020-2021 academic year, GDS will support the following actions:

  • Together with colleagues in the Global Studies Program, we will create a course where faculty and students can engage directly with ongoing movements for social justice. 
  • We will form an advisory group comprised of colleagues outside the universitywho are active in movements for social justice, and we will link them to students and faculty who can support their work.  
  • We commit to listen to, take seriously, and respond to our students when they signal space for betterment with respect to how the GDS program is organized. This includes commitments, once faculty searches resume at UVA, to prioritize hiring Black and Brown scholars and praxctitioners, to develop courses that reflect the knowledge created by and relevant to Black and Brown people around the globe, and to promote engaged learning that contributes to on-going efforts for racial and social justice appropriate to our skills and experiences. 
  • We commit to forming an advisory group of students to identify other promising initiatives to advance racial and other forms of social justice.  
  • We will encourage the formation of a social support organization among GDS students to care for each other’s affective needs, enabling students to continue their living and learning in the classroom and out of it.  

We will add to this list as guided by our advisory boards and as circumstances change.  

UVA sits on Monacan land, amid buildings constructed by enslaved labor, supported by workers today who are often Black, Brown, immigrant and refugee and who – despite recent and long-overdue increases in wages – still struggle to survive in Charlottesville. GDS joins a chorus of voices at UVA pushing the university to address these injustices on Grounds, and in our relations across the globe. 

News from GDS graduates:

Taylor Barry, 2018 GDS grad, has a new job! She now works at /dev/color

/dev/color believes the world is a better place when we get the most out of each individual. Software engineers are uniquely positioned to improve the world—one programmer can design products that change millions of lives. Black software engineers have historically faced challenges in reaching their full potential. /dev/color ensures that Black software engineers, including technical founders and industry executives, fulfill the promise of their talents, transform the industry, and use their skills and position to give back to their communities. The mission is to empower Black software engineers to help one another grow into industry leaders.

Taylor’s role sits within the Partnerships team, which is focused on growth by galvanizing and scaling our full range of partners and supporters as we build /dev/color into a national organization impacting tens of thousands of software engineers. A significant part of Taylor’s role is to intimately understand and build stronger strategic relationships with the organization's collective partnership community to strategically execute new and exciting ways to equitably support our Black software engineering community (including technical founders) and the world.

My name is Carlin Smith and I graduated from UVA in 2020 with a Bachelors in Global Development Studies. In September I will begin at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration (SSA) where I will pursue my Masters degree in Social Work with a Clinical concentration. I chose this program because it beautifully combines direct social work practice with policy development and interdisciplinary research. I also love the SSA program at Chicago because it allows students to pursue an additional certificate in Global Social Development Practice (GSDP), which I will be able to apply for during my first semester. Through this certificate, SSA students participate in globally-focused field placements around Chicago that often serve immigrant or refugee populations. During their second year, students participate in a six-month field placement abroad. These opportunities help SSA students learn how to combine policy and advocacy work with direct practice in the international arena. My long-term goal is to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and contribute to global social development initiatives, however that may look in the future. I am still invested in a collaborative development project that I joined during undergrad, between UVA and The Black Power Station in Makhanda, South Africa. I hope to use the skills I learn at Chicago to bolster my efforts in this collaboration and practice direct clinical work with patients, in the US and potentially abroad. 

Jillian Randolph is a 2019 graduate of the GDS program. After graduation, Jillian was a Princeton in Africa fellow at Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania, located in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. She now works at the Ohio State University as a Research Coordinator in the College of Nursing. During her time as an undergraduate, Jillian was heavily involved in community-based research projects, and spent two summers in Cape Town, South Africa on a number of university and national research grants. Her time managing community relationships, student researchers, and of course Institutional Review Board (IRB) approvals were some of the most formative and invaluable experiences from her undergraduate years and have had direct applications in her post-grad work. The experience of authoring and maintaining protocols and modifications to IRBs particularly helped her land her first job after her fellowship, as she is now directly responsible for protocol adherence and maintenance for a multi-year National Institutes of Health funded project. "

In the picture, the women of Iliso Lamakhosikazi, and GDS graduates Jillian Randolph (second row, far right) and Nanki Kaur (first row, far right).

On the topic of Nanki Kaur we received notice of her first day in  medical school in San Diego:

"Just wanted to share some photos from my white coat ceremony this past weekend. My family flew out to California and my younger brother even managed to surprise me, which was simply incredible! It was such a special experience to be coated by the people who are so important to me. 

I am again just so grateful for my GDS background and experiences in town two for framing this next chapter. I feel deeply equipped to understand the socioeconomic inequities that surround healthcare delivery, as well as constantly drawing on GDS-concepts of navigating power dynamics and nurturing humility in my patient interactions.  And of course, I will keep learning and growing throughout my life! I just think about how lucky I am to have had this type of incredibly strong theoretical foundation before diving into the nitty gritty. 

I am about to begin work at the downtown free clinic, in addition to juggling new classes, trying all the tacos in San Diego, and learning how to surf (albeit, poorly)!..."

And from Ariana DeLaurentis

After graduating in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Global Development Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Ariana DeLaurentis will be joining the 2020-2021 WILL Empower Apprenticeship Program. The WILL Empower Apprenticeship Program is a dynamic leadership development initiative designed to recruit and nurture the next generation of women in the labor and workers’ justice movement. Through the WILL Empower Apprenticeship Program, DeLaurentis will be placed at a host organization and designated two female mentors from the host organization and the broader workers’ justice movement. For the next six months, DeLaurentis will work at the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) U.S. office in Washington D.C. as the External Relations & Policy Apprentice. DeLaurentis is looking forward to fighting for labor justice on a global scale and growing into a better labor advocate.