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In Solidarity with Scholar Strike

Tuesday, September 8, 2020 through Wednesday, September 9, 2020
Midnight - 11:59 p.m.

Update: Thank you all for participating in scholar strike events! 584 individuals signed up to participate and it appears that well over 1000 took part in open classes and virtual events. Some classes and events have offered recordings or documents for folks who weren't able to make it. These are avaiable below.

On Sept 8 and 9th, the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies (FDI) and the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies (SBAI) are striking in solidarity with our city, our coworkers, and our students, concurrently with the nationwide Scholar Strike/Teach-In to protest state violence and racial injustice. For more context, read our update here. This nationwide strike has local urgency as our city copes with recently released information about the murder of Daniel Prude at the hands of Rochester Police Officers in March 2020, and as citywide activists and organizers take to the streets to protest hypersegregation, racism, and state violence. We encourage students, faculty and staff to join us in supporting those in our city who do this work.

In addition to the events below, we will have a teach-in with organizers from Free the People ROC at 11am on Wednesday Sept 9th. Organizers will talk with students, staff, and faculty about local BLM organizing, explain their current demands, discuss ways students, staff and faculty can get involved, and discuss the role of the university in relation to current events. Contact with any questions or for more information. To receive the link to participate email

If you plan to participate here are some options:

  • Register with us and let us know in the form whether or not we can publish your name on this page. You can also Register with the national strike organizers (they will not share names).

  • Connect with community activism outside of the UR. We suggest looking at actions suggested by Free The People Roc and Enough is Enough. If you suggest including other local organizing groups here for folks to refer to for informations about actions, please contact

  • Consider donating your wages for these two days to these or other organizations that work to combat structural racism, concentrated poverty, and state violence in our city. If you have the means, please donate to support: 

    -the family of Daniel Prude
    -Organizers (bail fund, supplies, and more) Venmo: @BLMRoc
    -Street Medic Supplies: Venmo: @ActaeaAlchemiae w note “medic”
    -Protective gear: Venmo: @Jaeylon-Y / PayPal: PayPal.Me/JayJohnson150 / Cashapp: $jaedoe1254 
    -Water and food: Venmo: @rocfoodnotbombs
  • Donating supplies:

    If you have protective gear (helmets, elbow/knee/shoulder pads, goggles, respirators, materials for shields, umbrellas, etc), medical supplies, and/or water/food to donate, email me at

  • For faculty: Cancel class/es and direct yourself and your students to content from the virtual teach-in or to classes held by faculty with expertise in these areas (see below). If you are not experienced in leading discussions about race and inequality, we suggest you opt to send students to one of the open classes listed in the table lower on this page. These will be lead by faculty who have pre-selected readings and have experience teaching this material.

  • For faculty: Teach in your normal slot but work with students to alter your teaching plan for that session to directly address issues of racial injustice and policing in relation to your course content.

  • Use the time to create dialogue and/or events within your departments to address how racism is perpetuated in your structures and how to make our institution less racist and more welcoming to and supportive of all. Consider contacting the Kearns Center and reviewing this anti-racism training before jumping in if you're not sure how to have these conversations in a thoughtful and productive way.

Open Class Sessions and Virtual Events

Recordings and materials from open classes are in this section

Free, public virtual events at the UR, as well as open class sessions at the UR are listed in the table below. Please email to get your information added to our list of open classes. In addition to these, we'd like to draw your attention to:

  • Nationwide virtual Teach-In. Organizers plan to host many hours of online teach-in during each day of the strike. Content will be posted on their Facebook page and their Twitter page, as well as their YouTube channel.

Tuesday, September 8

9:40 - 10:55
Research Methods in Psychology,
Professor Jeremy Jamieson

Class lecture is "Stereotyping, Prejudice, & Discrimination: Psychological Processes & Measurement" and is open to all.

If you are interested in receiving a recording of the lecture, email


Mixtape for Justice: The Protest Music of Black America 
hosted by Prof. Darren Mueller (Eastman School of Music) 
60+ people participated in this event

This listening session will present the protest music of Black America across genres, geographies, and time periods. This will be a space for listening and contemplation—the music and the musicians will take center stage. Attendees will be invited to offer suggestions and all submissions will be collected into a playlist for later circulation.

Here is the playlist!


Innovation in Public Service, Professor Stu Jordan

Reading: No required reading, but useful to view beforehand this video about the history of racist housing practices and policies in Monroe County.

We will be holding an introductory discussion of the concept of residential segregation (What counts and what doesn't count as segregation?), and from there moving into a discussion of how to use data from the American Community Survey to explore the nature, extent, causes and impacts of residential segregation, applied specifically to Monroe County New York.

Lecture notes are posted here.

The Museum of Broken Windows: Art and Police Brutality Professor Heather Layton
90+ people participated in this class

To view a recording of this lecture, click here.

Lecture and Artist Talk: The Museum of Broken Windows was a pop-up art exhibition in NYC that responds to issues of police brutality in America. The broken windows theory, first proposed by social scientists James Q. Wilson and George Killing in 1982, suggests that any sign of disorder in a neighborhood, such as a broken window, encourages small crimes which lead to serious crimes. Still used by the NYPD, it is a policing strategy that criminalizes poverty and turns neighborhoods into police occupation zones. Nafir White, one of the artists featured in the exhibition, will join us to discuss her art as it relates to this topic. 


12:00 - 1:30
July ’64 to March ’20: Race and Protest in Rochester
120+ people participated in this event

Screening and discussion with director, Carvin Eison, Professor, Department of Journalism, Broadcasting, and Public Relations, The College at Brockport SUNY

12:00 - 1:00 - July '64 film viewing
1:00 - 1:30 - a conversation with Carvin Eison, director of July '64; Professor, Department of Journalism, Broadcasting, and Public Relations, The College at Brockport SUNY

In solidarity with this week’s nationwide Scholar Strike/Teach-In and in the wake of recently disclosed information about the murder of Daniel Prude at the hands of Rochester Police Officers in March 2020, the History Department, the FDI, and the SBAI are hosting a viewing of Carvin Eison’s acclaimed documentary July ’64  - the story of the historic three-day protest that took place in several Rochester neighborhoods in the summer of 1964. Released to mark the fortieth anniversary of the protests in 2004, July ’64 combines archival footage, news reports, and interviews with witnesses and participants who discuss how this historic event continues to shape the racial and social geography of Rochester. The film will be followed by an open conversation with the film's director, Carvin Eison. 

July '64 can be viewed at any time here. 

Appropriation: A Dialogue Prof Solveiga Armoskaite
If in person:Gavett 301
Zoom Link: Please write for link
Readings: none. We will be discussing the lens to choose for research on appropriation.

Driven by indigenous thought, the course contemplates exchanges between dominant and minority cultures. What constitutes cultural appropriation (taking from another culture)? How is it different from transculturation (seamless fusing of elements from multiple cultures)? How do indigenous authors see cultural exchange?  Seeking answers, we will delve into primary and secondary scholarly sources as well as examine our own encounters with appropriation. We will reflect on how, e.g., Kimmerer (2013) reconciles ecological views of Western and indigenous traditions or how King (2017) documents uses and abuses of indigenous symbols in popular culture. We will start with an informal reflection on an instance of appropriation. This reflection will grow either into a research proposal, or a digital project idea or an outline of a critical essay. Throughout the process, peer reviews and instructor’s comments will help to hone academic writing as a means for scholarly dialogue. The process will allow for time, space and means to forge one’s own voice. 

The African Diaspora in Latin America, Prof Pablo Sierra
Zoom Link: Please write for link
Class Discussion: After a brief presentation, this class discussion will focus on the deep roots of racist thought and anti-blackness in the American continent and Iberia prior to and after 1492. We will discuss the genealogy of discriminatory notions of beauty, nature, religion, deformity and humanity in Christian and Muslim Spain and Portugal. We will then examine how these ideas seeped into the cultural fabric of America in the earliest years of conquest and colonization. How were these ideas propagated, by whom, and how do they continue to circulate in United States and Latin America today?

VIRTUAL EVENT led by students
"Who are we keeping safe? Reimagining public safety on campus"
120+ people participated in this event

UR Student-led Zoom discussion focusing on how to reimagine public safety in the wake of the deaths of Daniel Prude and so many others, and in the midst of a pandemic.Recording of event can be viewed here.

Whom are we protecting?

Wednesday, September 9

Intro to Language Sound Systems,
Professor Joyce McDonough
100+ people participated in this class

Reading: Rickford, John R. & King, Sharese (2016). "Language and linguistics on trial: Hearing Rachel Jeantel (and other vernacular speakers) in the Courtroom and Beyond." Language, 92(4), 948-988. Access text here.

Class discussion will be focused on the issues addressed in the Rickford and King paper and will concern speech and the analysis of speech and the importance of dialect and identity. The paper is an analysis of the speech and dialect of Rachel Jeantal, and an examination of her dialect and the way her critical testimony was treated (i.e. dismissed) in the trail because of blatant racial biases against the dialect and the inability of the court system to address them.

Sharese King is from Rochester. She's a '12 BA in Linguistics from UR. Her Stanford dissertation work was on dialect in Rochester.

Abstract of paper to be discussed: Rachel Jeantel was the leading prosecution witness when George Zimmerman was tried for killing Trayvon Martin, but she spoke in African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and her crucial testimony was dismissed as incomprehensible and not credible. The disregard for her speech in court and the media is familiar to vernacular speakers and puts Linguistics itself on trial: following Saussure, how do we dispel such ‘prejudices’ and ‘fictions’? We show that Jeantel speaks a highly systematic AAVE, with possible Caribbean influence. We also discuss voice quality and other factors that bedeviled her testimony, including dialect unfamiliarity and institutionalized racism. Finally, we suggest strategies for linguists to help vernacular speakers be better heard in courtrooms and beyond.



Teach In with Free the People ROC
300+ people participated in this event

For a recording of this event, click here.

Join organizers from Free the People ROC to learn about the work they have been doing all summer, their demands in relation to policing and Rochester, how students, staff and faculty can get involved, and discussion of the university's relationship to ongoing events.

 Free the People organizers with list of demands in MLK park in August 2020


Intersectionality: History of an Idea, Professor Eden Osucha
50+ people participated in this event


Class discussion: It is common practice to speak of the “social construction of race” as a key feature of white supremacy in the US yet the phrase itself doesn’t fully capture the more intimate levels at which racial construction takes hold—that is to say, how it is that white Americans in particular come to believe that they are white. I borrow this formulation from Ta-Nehisi Coates who uses variations on the phrase “the people who believed themselves to be white” to refer to “white people” throughout Between the World and Me (2015), a substitution that underscores white racial identity’s status as not just dominant ideology but as a fantasy that passes for reality by exerting a total hold on the consciousness. Coates’s conception of white race consciousness and the social construction model of analyzing race converge in Critical Race Theory, an intellectual movement launched by law school Professoressors of color nearly four decades ago. Critical Race Theory provides a set of tools for analyzing racial ideology and power in many areas of American life and the historical and ongoing subordination of people of color by placing race, as a term of analysis, at the center of the American legal system, its visions of justice and its written laws (from the U.S. Constitution to local municipal orders). Come with questions, insights, and impressions in response to the assigned writings, which represent formative CRT scholarship.


Humanitarianism and Systemic Oppressions,
Professor Cilas Kemedjio

A discussion of how Black Lives Do not Matter under Colonial Humanitarianism, police tactics, and the future of the movement.

Powerpoint from class is here.


Environmental Literature: Memory and Modernity, Professor Leila Nadir
Zoom link: Please email no later than 9am on Wednesday 9/9 to obtain the link.

Nurturing ourselves, our communities, and the earth is a theme of this course surveying environmental literature, from Henry Thoreau and Toni Morrison to Leslie Silko and Rachel Carson. In that spirit, today we will take a break from the usual academic labor of traditional classroom learning to have a supportive and open discussion about care-taking ourselves, our city, our families, our campus, and our communities during this latest violent manifestation of our nation's racial legacy. This meeting is optional for current students in this course because we all need to do what is best for us during this strike, and all members of the Environmental Humanities Program have been invited to attend. If you would like to join us, please contact me. The goal is to create a safe place for us to support one another and find some solace in each other's company during this time. 


Indigenous People’s Movements, Professor Tom Gibson
Zoom link: For the link, email Gibson at

Reading: Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. 2018. Pp. 29-57 in Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment. San Francisco: City Lights Books.

Class discussion: From its foundation, white supremacy in the US has rested on a particular combination of private militias and official police and military organizations. In the attached reading, Dunbar-Ortiz traces the origins of America’s peculiar gun culture back to the role played by private militias in the initial settlement of the lands cultivated by the first nations of the continent and the role played by private patrols in maintaining the institution of slavery. Early state constitutions often required that all adult white men be armed. These frontier militias and slave patrols were backed up by military units when necessary. A similar symbiosis exists today between white militias and local police forces within the US, as demonstrated by recent events in Portland and Kenosha. It also exists between private mercenary forces and the official military in countries under US occupation, such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Racial Democracies,
Professor Molly Ball
Zoom link: Please email to obtain the link
Readings (All three are available digitally through our Rush Rhees collections.)

Discussion: In this class period, we will look closely at the development of Brazil's racial democracy myth in the 1930s, seeking to understand the role geopolitical events in the 1930s played in the myth's creation. We will pay attention to what Graham terms as rhetoric of racial realism, racial denial, racial dissuasion and racial obstructionism, and how these featured in the attitudes of leaders and in the shape of policy discussions. On the Brazilian side, we will also look closely at the Frente Negro Brasileiro, the all-black political party, and the discussion over the mãe preta, black mother, figure. Students who are interested in attending and participating in discussion should email the professor. A password will be provided to attend the class virtually. Students should arrive prepared to share questions.


Writing for Social Change, Rachel O'Donnell
Zoom link: Please email to obtain the link

Reading: 1) Selections from Feminist Manifestos ed. Penny Weiss. 2) The 10-point program of the Black Panther Party and 3) Our Demands from the Black Student Collective at the University of Oregon.

Discussion:This class session will focus on manifestos. We will discuss those read in preparation for the class meeting as well as ideas for the manifestos written by students as an assignment for this class. Guests are invited to participate in this assignment but it is not required to attend this session.

A manifesto conveys a sense of urgency with its use of direct language. This could be why manifestos, no matter when they were written, feel very contemporary. Any manifesto worth reading demands the impossible. Surely the best first line since Marx and Engels’s “A spectre is haunting Europe” in “The Communist Manifesto” (1848) was the BPP’s “We want freedom” at the start of its 10-point program (1967). In both cases, the language is dangerous and unpredictable, and demands something of its reader.

Often a manifesto is written to promote a belief system or an international movement. In many cases it advertises an ‘ism,’ a way of seeing the world, or a set of demands (even if that demand is for larger understanding). Manifestos have been a popular technique to declare what it is you believe in for centuries, and therefore, it is not easy to write because first you first have to figure out what you believe.

In our recent readings of manifestos, you may have noticed that 1) Manifestos are written to challenge and provoke 2) Manifestos come in many forms (sometimes a list of numbered tenets or advertisements with selling points, like ‘join us’) and 3) Manifestos are better very short than very long. Your goal, therefore, is to write something that will challenge and provoke in a form that works well for you as a writer, as long as it is very brief yet direct.

History of Linguistic Thought,
Professor Ash Asudeh
Zoom Link: no later than noon on Wednesday 9/9 to obtain the link.

Reading: Chomsky, Noam. 1986. Knowledge of Language: Its Nature, Origin, and Use. Excerpt: Preface (pp.xxv-xxix) and Notes on Orwell's Problem (pp.276-287).
Please email no later than noon on Wednesday 9/9 to obtain the reading.

In this book, Chomsky considers two problems of knowledge. The first is "Plato’s problem": How can we as humans "know so much given that we have such limited evidence.” The second problem is the one we will focus on instead, as it is about how we understand our own societies and how they are governed. It is "Orwell’s problem": How can we "know so little, given that we have so much evidence.”

Chomsky writes, "Orwell's problem is to explain why we know and understand so little, even though the evidence available to us is so rich. Like many other twentieth-century intellectuals, Orwell was irnpressed with the ability of totalitarian systems to instill beliefs that are firmly held and widely accepted although they are completely without foundation and often plainly at variance with obvious facts about the world around us. To solve Orwell's problem we must discover the institutional and other factors that block insight and understanding in crucial areas of our lives and ask why they are effective."

American Body Politics, Professor Eden Osucha
Zoom link: For the link, email

Reading: Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" (1839)

Class Discussion: Edgar Alan Poe’s well-known story “The Fall of the House of Usher,” published in 1839, is a landmark work of Gothic fiction, wedding a sophisticated account of psychological processes and insight into the unconscious with a meticulous narrative craft and obsessive attention to detailed description one admiring British critic later in the nineteenth century referred to as Poe’s “microscopic power of analysis.” With its generic European setting, blurring of distinctions between life and death and fantasy and reality, and evocations of the supernatural and the uncanny, “The Fall of the House of Usher” might seem hard to place within American literary history, given the story’s lack of overt references to its author’s own place and time or to any historical or cultural signposts that locate the narrative within an “American” scene. However, Poe was a Southerner, writing in the antebellum context of heightened national consciousness of race issues, virulent racism, and the political question of slavery; Poe's evasions of race matters and ambiguous racial symbolism--is his work implicitly racist or subversive of racist beliefs?--have led recent scholars of American literature to center questions of racial ideology in their analyses of Poe's writing and distinctive aesthetic. This class will discuss how the horrors of slavery, antebellum discourses of race, and still current anxieties over the “purity” of whiteness reverberate throughout “The Fall of the House of Usher,” finding expression in its Gothic literary strategies. This is a weird text to be sure but also one that is fun (hopefully!) to unpack collaboratively; students are encouraged to bring questions and impressions.



Radical Social Theory, Professor Tom Gibson
Zoom link: For the link, email Gibson at


Class discussion: In 1848, two young radicals, Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Engels (1820-1895) published The Communist Manifesto. They argued that the replacement of monarchical rule with parliamentary democracy would only intensify the exploitation of the working class if revolutionary advances in science and technology became the private property of a tiny group of capitalists concerned only with profit. They demanded instead that democratic principles and scientific knowledge be applied to the economy as well as to politics. 170 years later, the role played by major oil, agricultural and tobacco corporations in deliberately sowing doubt about scientific research into climate change, lead poisoning, and cancer shows that continuing to base the world economy on the profit motive is putting life itself at risk, and that a transition to social democracy is more urgent than ever before. What form this will take remains to be determined.

Participants in UR Scholar Strike

Add your name to this list here.