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Letter of Support to our Students and Community – 10/13/23

We, the core faculty of the Gender and Women’s Studies (GWS) and Black Studies (BLST) Programs at the University of Illinois Chicago, stand in solidarity with the people of Gaza and those among our UIC community who are directly and indirectly affected by the current humanitarian crisis as we recognize the long struggle for self-determination of the Palestinian people. Chicago is home to one of the largest Palestinian diasporic populations in North America, and a significant number of Palestinian students have made UIC their academic home. As faculty members at the largest public university in Chicago, we have a particular obligation to name clearly what is happening and hold space to express the overwhelming grief, fear, and anger so many are experiencing right now. We denounce the ongoing escalation of settler colonial violence, especially the illegal siege exercised by the Israeli state against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. We both mourn the loss of life in southern Israel, and we are outraged by the response of the Israeli state, fully backed by the U.S. government, which has indiscriminately bombed Gaza, brutalized its residents, and cut off all power, water, and humanitarian aid to the 2.2 million residents of Gaza.

We know many of our students have familial and cultural connections to Palestine and Israel and are devastated by the unimaginable violence and loss of life on all sides. We are also aware that many of our Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, and other students of color are currently being targeted, alienated, or harassed while navigating a climate that erases their suffering and dehumanizes their existence. It is with the full sense of this context that:

  1. We honor the pain you are experiencing as a result of living the violence of siege in the diaspora and the anguish of worrying about family and friends in the region.
  2. We deplore the virulent anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim racism and dehumanization circulating around us–from peers, political leaders, and mainstream U.S. media. We support you in your efforts to maintain the integrity of your identity and the reality of your safety under these conditions of implicit and often explicit hostility.
  3. We insist the university denounce censorship and repression of any kind, especially of Palestinian voices on our campus and honor your right to free speech and academic freedom.
  4. We reaffirm our commitment to making our unit and our feminist classrooms a site of collective support and inquiry, particularly for minoritized and marginalized students.
  5. We stand with and beside those targeted by colonialism, racism, heteropatriarchy, ableism, and state-sanctioned violence. We understand Palestine solidarity to be a crucial transnational feminist freedom struggle and declare, unequivocally, that GWS and BLST is a refuge and brave space for you.

We also share with you these important resources compiled by our colleagues in GLAS:

For spaces of support on campus:

The Centers for Cultural Understanding and Social Change (CCUSC)

For educational resources, follow:

  1. The UIC Arab American Cultural Cultural Center (ARABAMCC) on social media (facebook and IG) and website
  2. Teaching Resources compiled by UIC Global Asian Studies
  3. Jewish Voice for Peace
  4. Let’s Talk Palestine
  5. Visualizing Palestine
  6. The Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU)
  7. Palestine Legal
  8.  GLAS Palestinian Feminist Collective's Digital Action Toolkit