Racism is a reality we as teachers and students of the ancient world must confront. Ancient art and literature, as well as later works inspired by them, frequently exhibit forms of racial bias and prejudice. Moreover, between the ancient world and ours is a long history of anti-Black racism that includes enslavement, genocide, white supremacy, police violence, and mass incarceration. As one of the oldest academic disciplines, Classics has historically been used, both tacitly and overtly, more often to justify than fight these evils.
For these reasons, we must be attentive to racism both in our course materials and in our classroom. Respectful disagreements and calm and focused explanations of differences are encouraged; however, statements about a person or group, negative or positive, based on their race or racial stereotypes are racist and will be identified as such. For the sake of constructive dialogue, we will shift the focus from identifying people as racist to identifying statements, actions, and ideologies as racist. People can and do think any number of racist and anti-racist things (often simultaneously and in contradiction), but by focusing on statements, actions, and ideologies we give everyone room to learn, grow, and change. As an educational community, let us strive to promote anti-racism with compassion, understanding, and courage.
The principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are fundamental to the mission of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Iowa, as we conduct our work in the context of the whole of humanity.
- In our teaching, we draw on, explore, and question every facet of human experience and understanding.
- In our scholarship, scientific inquiry, and artistry, we create new knowledge and insight, reflecting and shaping the cultures and societies in which human lives unfold.
- In our service to Iowans, we collaborate with communities to solve critical problems arising from inequity.
DEI values are inseparable from those of the liberal arts tradition. To fully realize our college’s critical mission of advancing human understanding within that tradition, we must actualize these values in every aspect of our decision-making and every area of our academic community.