Monday, June 8, 2020

Call to Participate in Strike for Black Lives and Black Survival and Wellness Week

By Gregory Rudnick

As a community and society we are grieving the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, James Scurlock, Manuel Ellis, and so many others who have been victims of the institutionalized and systemic anti-Black racism that deprives Black people regularly of their lives and livelihood. In this moment of grief and anger we must also confront the ingrained racism within our departments, institutions, disciplines, and communities.

We must harness the anger and thirst for change and justice that we are feeling and convert this moment into a movement that is grounded in action at all levels of society. Sometimes it is hard to know where to start with such an endeavor. One way is to start locally, inspired by a global movement. The chance to do this is now.

On June 10th, there will be a global day of action, affirming that Black Lives Matter in academia as well as in our communities. This day of action is organized by Particles for Justice and led by physicists Dr. Brian Nord Jr and Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein.

If you are interested to learn more, please read this Dear Colleagues letter from Dr. Nord. The call is asking for academics to not work on anything related to their research, administration, or teaching missions on June 10, in order to give Black academics a break and a chance to breathe. Particles for Justice folks started a petition in order to collect signatures. To quote from the particlesforjustice.org web page:

“The strike is not a “day off” for non-Black scientists, but a day to engage in academia’s core mission to build a better society for everyone; see below for suggested actions that participants can take on strike day to educate themselves and advocate for change in their communities. Those of us who are Black academics should take the day to do whatever nourishes their hearts, whether that’s protesting, organizing, or watching “Astronomy Club.””

Along with some members of the Physics and Astronomy department at the University of Kansas, I will be taking part in this strike on Wednesday. We will be using this time, working together in an all-day workshop, to develop a plan of action for how to address the goals of the strike and ensure that Black Lives matter in academia. Our goal will be not only to educate ourselves, for that is something that we should be pursuing on a daily basis, but to come up with concrete steps, responsible parties, and milestones for achieving concrete goals. I will write in a future blog post on what resulted from our workshop.

I encourage all of us to consider the actions we, as non-Black academics, can take in solidarity with our Black colleagues and to make our profession, departments, and universities more welcoming, affirming, and just.

Strike details: https://www.particlesforjustice.org/strike-details

Resources: https://www.particlesforjustice.org/resources

www.particlesforjustice.org

www.shutdownstem.com

There is also a Black-women led effort specifically targeting people in academia. It will be a week of training and accountability to grow our consciousness of anti-Black racism and to support Black Survival and Wellness in academia. The week starts June 19 (Juneteenth), and you can register as well as sign the call to action here: https://www.academics4blacklives.com/. I also urge you to donate to support the incredible effort and work that these primarily Black academics are doing to educate white academics.

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