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Black Lives Matter

August 31, 2020

Statement in support of Academic Strike/Teach-In

We invite the University of Rochester community to join FDI and SBAI in two days of solidarity with our city, our coworkers, and our students through the nationwide Scholar Strike/Teach-In to protest state violence and racial injustice (more info here) on September 8th and 9th.

As FDI and SBAI, we will a) communicate content from faculty who teach about these issues who are opening their classrooms and syllabi to other students to participate for these two days; b) organize some discussion forums (virtual, perhaps also masked/distanced) including with local activists and organizers in #BLM, and c) connect faculty with the nationwide virtual public teach-in. Event page is here.

What does striking/teaching-in mean? Participation can mean many things. Use the strike time to politically organize at the campus, city, state, or national level. What might the demands be of our departments, programs, schools, university, or state, and what coalitions can we join and build to get there? Use the time to pause focus on your STEM work to participate in courses, webinars, readings, or conversations to educate yourself on the historical roots of state violence and its contemporary manifestations and our complicity in it.  Direct your students and colleagues to content we provide. Use this time to mark a moment of silence for those killed or injured by the state, those living in cages, those dying unnecessarily of Covid, in our city, region, state, and nation. If this is your life's work, use this time for self-care and to look AWAY knowing that for these two days, others are stepping in.

By endorsing this nationwide action, we intend to provide some (necessary though not sufficient) legitimacy and thus protection for those of our academic colleagues without labor protections to participate--those educators and staff who, in the face of austerity logics, teach and work in pandemic and precarious conditions. Further, on our campus, we invite those in departments that have not historically been involved with FDI and SBAI to participate--and we are eager to think with you about ways you can do so. FDI and SBAI will be relying on the nationwide virtual strike content and existing course content rather than providing extensive new programming for the strike days, in acknowledgement of the excessive labor academic faculty have been putting in over the past five months of pandemic (perhaps especially those who already do organizing and teaching on these issues), of the caregiving crisis that has arisen in the face of pandemic and closures of public schools, and of the mental health crisis that comes with all of this.

These conversations and the political action that emerges out of them are urgent. We strike, teach-in, protest as a way of re-centering the central role of education and action in university life and academic work. If you plan to participate, please click through to sign on to the nationwide movement (they are not releasing names; this will link you in to the shared curated content) and please consider letting us know so that we can increase our visibility among to our colleagues, students, and administration.


June 10, 2020

The University of Rochester's Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies and the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies stand with #BlackLivesMatter activists and protestors in Rochester and across the country and world, fighting against state-sanctioned violence, and against anti-blackness.

On #ShutDownAcademia day and all days, we honor the transformative possibilities of uprisings, political protests, and radical imaginations. We support our students in their anti-racist demands. We commit to fighting to build a world that is more just, anti-racist, queer- and trans- and disability-inclusive, beginning in our classrooms, our campus, and our city.

We encourage our students to read and think with us in our fall GSWS and AAAS classes that grapple foundationally with questions of inequality, state violence, policing and mass incarceration, race, class, gender, sexuality, and justice (For example, Sex and Power; Intersectionality: History of an Idea; Cultural Politics of Prison Towns; LGBTQ+ Cultures; Food Matters; Words have Power; The Black Body; Music of Black Americans; Religion, Race, and Ethnicity in America; Black Church Studies; The South and the World; Civil Disobedience; Reimagining the Human; Introduction to African American Literature).

Both Institutes look forward to working with our students and and colleagues and neighbors in the fall semester to hold each other and the university administration accountable, to determine the kinds of programming and policies that will move beyond gestures and statements to bring concrete, sustainable changes.

Here is a partial list of resources students and colleagues might find useful: