College Faculty Participate in Solidarity Actions Calling Attention to Violence Against People of Color

Faculty are organizing a grassroots nationwide Scholar Strike September 8 and 9. The organizers of the event are calling for faculty across the country to withhold their labor in order to bring attention to violence against communities of color. The California Faculty Association supports the days of action, teach-ins, and social justice advocacy as we head into the Labor Day weekend, a time to celebrate and recognize the considerable contributions of unions and the Labor movement to America.

Scholar Strike organizers recognize that some faculty are under contract, like CSU faculty, and work under “no strike” clauses. The organizers invite participants like CSU faculty to work “to the clock” or “work to contract” meaning teach classes, but refrain from other work in order to bring focus to the times we’re living in. Next week, many of our members will take the topic to the classroom, as violence against communities of color is impacting them, their families, their colleagues, and their students in ways that make work and study impossible to perform as usual.  Resources to hold such teach-ins can be found here. Students may also choose to participate in the day of action, and CFA encourages faculty to support their efforts and be in solidarity with our student scholars, too.

“CFA stands in strong solidarity with the Scholar Strike.  Although we cannot strike, we can take meaningful and intentional actions to help draw attention and resolution to anti-Black racism in the CSU and in this country,” CFA President Charles Toombs said. “CFA’s Anti-Black Racism Demands make it clear that Black faculty must be supported on our campuses. They must be at the table making decisions; they must be hired, tenured, and promoted; and their research, scholarly and creative production, and service must be respected and valued.”

“In addition to the Black masses and their tremendous and never-ceasing efforts over centuries to achieve Black liberation, justice, and equity, Black intellectuals and academics have always been at their side, providing support and encouragement from the academy and from other professions,” Toombs added.

Last week, we saw professional athletes risk their jobs by calling for strikes, and many sporting events were cancelled. Los Angeles Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers explained the all too familiar tension, fear, and terror that Black athletes are experiencing. “All you hear is Donald Trump and all of them talking about fear,” Rivers said of last week’s Republican National Convention. “We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot. We’re the ones that were denied to live in certain communities. We’ve been hung. We’ve been shot. And all you do is keep hearing about fear.” Under this backdrop, athletes, Black and non-Black, committed to work stoppages and engaged in activities to support anti-racism and social justice including voter registration drives and expanding polling locations to take place in their arenas this election season.

CFA has been on the forefront of calling for change. CFA’s officers issued a series of demands to address anti-Black racism. We encourage faculty to incorporate these demands for racial justice on September 8 and 9. For folks who teach on Zoom on those days, consider using CFA backgrounds here and here.  Members can also show solidarity on social media: take a selfie dressed in graduation regalia or CFA swag with raised fist showing support for the day of action (such as CFA Vice President Sharon Elise’s pose in photo).  Use the hashtag #ScholarStrike and tag CFA with @CFA_News.

Many members have expressed the great mental and emotional strain that recent events have caused.  CFA reminds members that our CFA Collective Bargaining Agreement provides for a personal day each year.  See Faculty Rights Tip of the Week item below for more details.

The CSU administration has done little beyond hollow expressions to confront systemic racism. Many of CSU’s leaders, including the Chancellor, fought CFA on passing legislation implementing an Ethnic Studies graduation requirement for the CSU. We would like to see the energy and passion they displayed fighting us redirected to enacting truly just policy and curriculum changes that higher education can and should provide to Californians.