June 11, 2020
Dear Econ students,
The faculty of the Occidental College Economics Department unequivocally denounce the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor and countless others in the Black community who have suffered from the political, economic, social, psychological, and physical violence entrenched in U.S. institutions. We stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and those who are passionately and rightfully protesting against systemic and institutionalized practices of anti-Black racism. The mounting protests are indicators of deep, long-standing injustices and occur at a time when the Occidental Community is continuing to grieve the deaths of Ilah Richardson and Jaden Burris.
We strongly condemn racism, and all forms of prejudice, bias, and discrimination perpetrated against Blacks. As economists, we know that systemic racism is a significant contributor to the persistent racial disparities in health, wealth, employment, housing, wages, education, and poverty. We, the faculty of the Economics department, can do better to support our community, and to challenge institutionalized racism and injustices within the field of economics and society as a whole.
We recognize that the economics profession is a hostile one for Black economists, who experience ongoing discrimination and lack of respect from other economists (American Economic Association 2019 Professional Climate Survey). We are also aware of the ways in which economics as a discipline through its assumptions and practices upholds systems of institutionalized racism. We fully acknowledge that economics at Oxy has been complicit in perpetuating these trends. We are committed to doing our part to reverse these trends to ensure that the profession represents and respects diverse voices, and we support the American Economic Association’s efforts to begin reforming the profession (American Economic Association Executive Committee Statement).
We encourage you to learn more about critiques of the economics profession’s methodological approach by reading any of the following:
Joelle Gamble (2020) on the how economic assumptions support racist systems
Small and Pager (2020) on what economists can learn from sociologists in the study of racial discrimination
Akerlof (2020) on the important social problems that economists neglect
We would also like to draw your attention to a reading list on racism and the experience of Black Americans compiled by the American Economic Association Summer Program (AEASP) and the Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession (CSMGEP).
Classes are not in session, and some of you might be feeling isolated. The Economics department would like to make sure that all of you know that we are here for you. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if we can help you in any way.
In the coming weeks and months, we will be working together to make our department a stronger force against systemic racism. We will think about how to make the economics major more diverse and supportive of our Black students. Importantly, we will be exploring how to transform in a meaningful and sustained way our curriculum and pedagogy to reflect the role that systemic racism plays in everything that we try to understand as economists. As we consider the steps that we can take towards building a more equitable department, we will actively engage with our student organizations (Economics Student Association and Women of Economics), and welcome all students and alumni to share your thoughts and perspectives with us.
The Economics Faculty