On September 8 and 9, higher education faculty, staff and students across the country supported a Scholar Strike for Racial Justice.
Scholar Strike was an action inspired by social justice calls led by Colin Kaepernick and athletes in the WNBA and NBA to fight back against racism and injustice in the United States. Participating faculty and staff were asked to refrain from daily duties to raise awareness of and prompt action against racism, policing, and mass incarceration.
Though CFA members cannot strike under contract, thousands participated through two days of teach-ins and other actions to support the cause and promote anti-racism and social justice causes.
At Cal State Monterey Bay, nearly 1,000 people joined for A Day of Action for Racial Equity: Black Faculty and Staff Teach-in. The teach-ins at CSUMB were, according to CFA Council for Racial and Social Justice representative George Station, “educational forums that examine complex issues through myriad lenses, while engaging participants and serving as a call to action. The concept represents an evolution of the ‘sit-ins’ used during the Civil Rights era to educate and advocate for civil rights. Black Americans continue in the fight for justice and fairness. This teach-in will highlight some of the issues experienced in this struggle.”
Faculty who had classes scheduled were asked to allow students to participate in the event for course credit or extra credit. Students were asked to listen to Black faculty speak their truths in a real and authentic way to better understand relevant social concerns of Black scholars. Administrators were asked to participate, along with their staff, during the two days of action to listen and understand the issues for Black faculty and students at CSUMB.
“This event was very necessary and timely. We are at a tipping point in our nation’s history. A time when Black voices are critical to raising the national consciousness about the injustices we’ve faced for far too long. This was a great event to galvanize our campus community and to do our part to move towards a more fair and just society,” said Vanessa Lopez-Littleton, CFA Monterey Bay Chapter President.
At Cal State Long Beach, more than 4,400 participants logged into nine panels, which included ranging from 13th: What the Film Teaches Us About Anti-Blackness in the U.S., to When Black Lives Matter and Immigrant Rights Movements Collide, to The Movement Needs Co-Conspirators Instead of Allies, to AB 1460: CSU Ethnic Studies Requirement, to Racial Equity in Undergraduate Research. CFA Long Beach members created a website, CSULB Supporting Anti-Racism, “to provide panel information, as well as podcasts, readings, and websites to gain a deeper understanding of racial justice and coping with racial trauma.”
“We need a real discussion of race and racism in this country; I see the summer protests, our AB 1460 campaign, and the Scholar Strike as steps toward engendering that necessary collective self-reflection,” said Gary Hytrek, CFA Long Beach Co-President.