We the editors and staff at Romantic Circles stand in solidarity with all those who protest the deaths of most recently Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Tony McDade, and Breonna Taylor, as well as all the other Black victims of racist violence in the United States and around the globe. We support those struggling in the streets against such violence, and who are putting their own lives and bodies at risk in doing so. We condemn the systemic racism and neglect of Black communities that enables it, the brutal actions of police departments routinely practiced on these populations and the social inequalities that have made Covid-19 a particularly damaging, ongoing threat to neighborhoods and families of people of color.
As scholars and students of Romanticism, we know what we continue to witness today is not new, but part of a longer history of violence and exploitation with which it is entwined. The Romantic era was a time when modern ideas of freedom were first thought and poetized systematically; it was also a time of empire and the Middle Passage, of the enslavement and colonization of non-European peoples across the globe. The most significant and lasting scholarship in our field has no difficulty recognizing these contradictions, embracing them as the necessary starting point of any deliberate attempt to think and create a more just world. Romantic Circles remains committed to supporting that type of inquiry, which includes examining the ways systemic exclusions of race shape our field in particular and work in the humanities more generally.
At this moment we are witnessing a mass insurgency against racist practice and police violence rarely seen before in the United States. We are also witnessing an unprecedented use of militarized violence to subdue protests in our nation’s capital and elsewhere across America. The authors we read, care, and think about were intimately familiar with such brutality. Like them we understand that violence is the everyday. And in our unequivocal condemnation of police violence against Black lives, we know whom we support and whom we stand against.
“Ye are many, they are few.”
June 11, 2020