A Collective of Medievalists of Color issues a statement on racism in the profession and in their field:
“We, the Medievalists of Color, need our colleagues to understand the systemic racism of which we speak and the role it has continued to play in our field’s constitution and practices; to educate themselves in the critical discourses that address systemic racism both explicit and implicit; and in doing so to move past preoccupations with individual intentions. Chafing at the accusation of racism is illogical: systemic racism dictates that we are all entangled in its articulations and practices. The most damaging consequence of systemic racism is not that one might stand accused of racism; it is the harm—historically manifested on a continuum from rhetorical to psychological to physical violence—done to persons of color. Were more constituents of medieval studies to educate themselves in the critical theory of race, we could all actively address these harmful impacts in ways hitherto not possible in the field of medieval studies.
Indeed, the intellectual and ethical protocols of our discipline require us to immerse ourselves in relevant scholarly discourses. No medievalist working on Western Europe would dare discuss the term “nation” without consulting Patrick Geary’s Before France and Germany. No medievalist working on medieval memory would ignore the work of Mary Carruthers in the Book of Memory. We affirm that the same ethic of scholarly rigor applies to critical race studies and to the discussion of race, ethnicity, nationhood, and “otherness” because these topics are crucial to both the content and the professional conduct of medieval studies. Even, and especially, if we find that the scholarly paradigms of critical race and ethnic studies, postcolonialism, and decolonization do not speak fully to the historical moments we study, we are obligated to enter, and even expand, the conversations they engender. If we wish medieval studies to engage meaningfully in the modern world of which it is a product, and in which it is an agent, then medievalists must also rigorously engage with the fields that examine the ideologies and distributions of power that define the modern world. When medievalists endeavor to understand systemic racism, medieval studies becomes a stronger field whose constituents together have far greater resources for analyzing the past and present while shaping the future…”