Position Statement on Government-Sanctioned and Systemic Racial Violence

As an international organization, the IVSA recognizes that government sanctioned and systemic racial violence is not exclusively a U.S. problem. We strongly condemn and oppose systems, institutions, and organizations everywhere that maintain or extend any and all forms of white supremacy and colonial and racist violence. Our current state of furious grief encompasses not just the gross injustices occurring in the USA but also the current stripping of rights from citizens of Hong Kong and the authoritarian regimes being installed in Hungary and elsewhere.

Critiquing and reversing the widespread normalization of hate and violence for the benefit of a privileged few is a critical mission whose fulfillment we approach with redoubled vigor.

The International Visual Sociology Association stands in solidarity with Black and racialized communities in demanding justice and the eradication of the systems of oppression and violence that have inflicted incalculable harm on communities of color in the USA. We stand in opposition to heads of state like U.S. President Donald Trump, who has proven himself to be a racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, homophobic, and violent oppressor. We further decry all systems, institutions, and organizations borne of white supremacy, which continue to perpetuate the violence of White Racism in the USA and beyond.

As an organization, we acknowledge the pain, grief, anger, and fears surrounding recent events, and we commit ourselves to the pursuit of justice, systemic reparations, and healing. We further commit ourselves to holding our governments accountable for their role in carrying out America’s 400-year allegiance to the persecution and enslavement of Black, Indigenous, People of Color. What we are seeing is genocide in motion, and it must be stopped.

We recognize and will continue to emphasize the fact that violent racism is not an accidental or unpredicted outcome. The USA was deliberately constructed to “privilege, prioritize, and empower educated, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, thin, middle/upper class men” (Weaving Earth). Our recognition and continual restatement of this fact does not mean we accept it as immutable. To the contrary, we view these times as a crucible, one in which IVSA will align itself with, and work doggedly alongside, any and all organizations that commit themselves to interrupting and destroying the white supremacist designs according to which the country operates on a daily basis.

Members of our own community and the public at large continue to experience bias and we cannot view these events as something that only happens elsewhere. In these challenging times the International Visual Sociology Association continues to strive for a community that is mutually respectful, physically safe, inclusive, and morally accountable. As a scholarly scientific society, the IVSA is committed to sharing knowledge and information with the aim of building a supportive, empathic, and informed community. Discrimination of any kind is antithetical to our mission.

The IVSA supports all students and maintains that they should be able to engage in their jobs and educational pursuits without fear of hatred and violence resulting from xenophobia, racism, and bigotry. The IVSA firmly believes that all students deserve an education that affirms and validates diversity and difference, and facilitates well-being and community. And further, calls on institutions to investigate and properly prosecute harassment and hate crimes. As a community of scholars, we urge our members to reach out to each other because we understand that we are all connected. As the IVSA’s Board of Directors, we encourage members to reach out to us with requests for assistance, suggestions for improvements to our operations, and questions about the organization’s mission and operations.

A statement is a declaration. It is not dialogue. Too often, statements such as this one (and language in general, for that matter) serve to protect and excuse the speaker from meaningful and difficult, perhaps even risky, action. We therefore encourage all IVSA members and supporters to take direct action to address the vast and complex web of policies, laws, and accepted norms and practices that sustain a society founded on the merciless brutalization of black and brown bodies.

In addition to holding the IVSA accountable for the content of this statement, and our declared intent to take action ourselves, you might consider providing financial support to any of the anti-racist organizations that need our assistance in this time of emergency in the USA. Below we provide a partial list of organizations from which we can learn and to whom we can provide material and moral backing.

If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions for specific actions that IVSA can take as an evolving anti-racist and anti-colonialist organization, please email IVSA President Greg Scott.

Call for Cover Images

The Visual Studies Editorial Team, and the International Visual Sociology Association are calling for cover image submissions on the theme of Anti-Racism. One image will be selected to feature on the cover of the next issue of Visual Studies.

Find out more

 

Organizations
  • American Civil Liberties Union

    “The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation’s guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.”

    DONATE AND LEARN MORE: HERE

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    The Bail Project

    “The Bail Project, Inc. is an unprecedented effort to combat mass incarceration at the front end of the system. We pay bail for people in need, reuniting families and restoring the presumption of innocence. Because bail is returned at the end of a case, donations to The Bail Project™ National Revolving Bail Fund can be recycled and reused to pay bail two to three times per year, maximizing the impact of every dollar. 100% of online donations are used to bring people home.”

     

    DONATE AND LEARN MORE: HERE

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    Black Lives Matter

    “#BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives.”

     

    DONATE AND LEARN MORE: HERE

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    Black Visions Collective

    “Since 2017, Black Visions Collective, has been putting into practice the lessons learned from organizations before us in order to shape a political home for Black people across Minnesota. We aim to center our work in healing and transformative justice principles, intentionally develop our organizations core “DNA” to ensure sustainability, and develop Minnesota’s emerging Black leadership to lead powerful campaigns. By building movements from the ground up with an integrated model, we are creating the conditions for long term success and transformation.”

     

    DONATE AND LEARN MORE: HERE

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    Color of Change

    “Color Of Change is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. We help people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us. As a national online force driven by 1.7 million members, we move decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America.”

     

    DONATE AND LEARN MORE: HERE

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    George Floyd Memorial Fund

    “My family and I watched in absolute horror as the now infamous and horrifying video began to spread quickly throughout social media. What we saw on that tape left us shell shocked; a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling directly on my brother’s neck, obstructing his ability to breathe. As some officers knelt on his neck, other officers participated and watched; no one took any action to save my brother’s life.  Those officers would continue to brutalize my brother until he died. The George Floyd Memorial Fund is established to cover funeral and burial expenses, mental and grief counseling, lodging and travel for all court proceedings, and to assist our family in the days to come as we continue to seek justice for George.  A portion of these funds will also go to the Estate of George Floyd for the benefit and care of his children and their educational fund.”

     

    DONATE AND LEARN MORE: HERE

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    Know Your Rights Camp Legal Defense Initiative

    “Started by Colin Kaepernick to aid the protesters arrested in Minneapolis, The Know Your Rights Camp Legal Defense Initiative has identified and teamed up with top defense lawyers in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area to provide legal resources for those in need. When there is an injustice within our community, it is our legal right to address it, by any means necessary. “

     

    DONATE AND LEARN MORE: HERE

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    NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

    “The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. is America’s premier legal organization fighting for racial justice. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans. LDF also defends the gains and protections won over the past 75 years of civil rights struggle and works to improve the quality and diversity of judicial and executive appointments.”

     

    DONATE AND LEARN MORE: HERE

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    National Bail Fund Network

    “The National Bail Fund Network is made up of over sixty community bail and bond funds across the country. We regularly update this listing of community bail funds that are freeing people by paying bail/bond and are also fighting to abolish the money bail system and pretrial detention.”

     

    DONATE AND LEARN MORE: HERE

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    National Police Accountability Project

    “NPAP works to educate and inform the public about issues relating to police misconduct, provide information resources for non-profit and community groups who work with victims of police abuse, support legislative reform efforts aimed at raising the level of police accountability and create a forum for legal professionals and community organizations to come together and creatively work to end police misconduct.”

     

    DONATE AND LEARN MORE: HERE

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    Reclaim the Block

    “Reclaim the Block began in 2018 and organizes Minneapolis community and city council members to move money from the police department into other areas of the city’s budget that truly promote community health and safety. We believe health, safety and resiliency exist without police of any kind. We organize around policies that strengthen community-led safety initiatives and reduce reliance on police departments. We do not believe that increased regulation of or public engagement with the police will lead to safer communities, as community testimony and documented police conduct suggest otherwise.”

     

    DONATE AND LEARN MORE: HERE

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    If it’s far away, it’s news, but if it’s close at home, it’s sociology.

    James Reston

  • We never really know what’s around the corner when we’re filming – what turn a story will take, what a character will do or say to surprise us, how the events in the world will impact our story.

    Barbara Kopple

  • If you want to tell the untold stories, if you want to give voice to the voiceless, you’ve got to find a language. Which goes for film as well as prose, for documentary as well as autobiography. Use the wrong language, and you’re dumb and blind.

    Salman Rushdie

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    Visual culture is now the study of how to understand change in a world too enormous to see but vital to imagine.

    Nicholas Mirzoeff

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    The task for sociology is to come to the help of the individual. We have to be in service of freedom. It is something we have lost sight of.

    Zygmunt Bauman

  • You try your hardest to give people their space, but at moments you know you’re capturing their image in ways they may or may not be okay with. It’s that rocking back and forth between respect and betrayal that I feel like is at the heart of the film.

    Kirsten Johnson

  • Photographers learn to interpret photographs in that technical way because they want to understand and use that ‘language’ themselves (just as musicians learn a more technical musical language than the layman needs). Social scientists who want to work with visual materials will have to learn to approach them in this more studious and time-consuming way

    Howard Becker

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    Every photograph promises more than it delivers and delivers more than it intended.

    Steve Harp

  • I believe that we face incredible obstacles in our attempts to see the world. Everything in our nature tries to deny the world around us; to refabricate it in our own image; to reinvent it for our own benefit. And so, it becomes something of a challenge, a task, to recover (or at least attempt to recover) the real world despite all the impediments to that end.

    Errol Morris

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    One advantage of photography is that it’s visual and can transcend language.

    Lisa Kristine

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    Reality changes; in order to represent it, modes of representation must change.

    Bertolt Brecht

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    Sometimes one picture is equal to 30 pages of discourse, just as there are things images are completely incapable of communicating.

    William S. Burroughs

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    There are dignified stupidities, and there are heroic stupidities, and there is such a thing as stupid stupidities, and that would be a stupid stupidity not to have a camera on board.

    Werner Herzog

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    For any picture, ask yourself what question or questions it might be answering. Since the picture could answer many, questions, we can decide what question we are interested in.

    Howard Becker

  • Watching a documentary with people hacking their way through some polar wasteland is merely a visual. Actually trying to deal with cold that can literally kill you is quite a different thing.

    Henry Rollins

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    The function of sociology, as of every science, is to reveal that which is hidden.

    Pierre Bourdieu

  • Before I became a film major, I was very heavily into social science, I had done a lot of sociology, anthropology, and I was playing in what I call social psychology, which is sort of an offshoot of anthropology/sociology – looking at a culture as a living organism, why it does what it does.

    George Lucas

  • Give us adequate images. We lack adequate images. Our civilization does not have adequate images. And I think a civilization is doomed or is going to die out like dinosaurs if it doesn’t develop an adequate language for adequate images.

    Werner Herzog

#Visualsociology

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