Takeaway: Please join your union in standing for racial justice. Consider how you can participate in the Scholar Strike for Racial Justice today and tomorrow, including its nationwide virtual teach-in. Here at Rutgers, our union is holding a Speakout on Black Lives at 7–8:30 p.m., featuring faculty members, students, university workers, and members of the community. Watch it at 7 p.m. tonight on our Facebook page or join us at the Zoom link below, and please spend the day spreading the word.
Today and tomorrow, our union is supporting the nationwide #ScholarStrike call to action for racial justice on September 8–9. Tonight at 7–8:30 p.m., we want to make our own contribution with our #[email protected] Speakout on Black Lives, broadcast live on our Facebook page and at our Zoom link below. Our speakout will be cohosted by faculty members Donna Murch and Chenjerai Kumanyika and will feature students, grad workers, faculty, Rutgers staff, and representatives of our community.
The #ScholarStrike and our speakout come after over 1,300 actions across the U.S. calling for racial justice and an end to discriminatory police killings and violence. The sheer size and breadth of these protests is unprecedented, and many experts are calling Black Lives Matter the largest protest movement in American history. The reaction to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Armaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and so many others has forced a historic reckoning with racial violence and structural inequality that can be felt throughout society. Yet the urgent need to stand for justice is no less great this fall in the face of continuing state and vigilante violence toward African Americans and the profound threat to voting rights and civil liberties as the November election approaches.
Our union is committed to the belief that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We believe it is our duty as scholars and as union members to find ways to support our society’s reckoning with its racist past and present. Emerging from a social media discussion started by University of Pennsylvania professor Anthea Butler, the #ScholarStrike won commitments from supporters across the country. Organizers of the event emphasize that there are a wide range of ways scholars and academic workers can take action. We urge you to show your support these next two days.
We believe there must be a reckoning at Rutgers, too, and we intend to also talk about this in our speakout tonight. In our last contract, we fought to force management to address stark pay inequalities, based on race and gender; like any victory, the pay equity provision of our contract now needs to be defended against management resistance. Instead of providing these raises, the Rutgers administration retained the notorious union-busting law firm Jackson Lewis to thwart the equity provisions of our current contract.
We also won $20 million in funds to accelerate the hiring of tenure-track faculty to address underrepresentation of women and people of color. But we have a lot further to go before Rutgers looks like New Jersey; Black faculty still compose around 4 percent of the total professoriate, less than half their numbers in the state. And as you know, management’s response to the pandemic left the most vulnerable populations to bear the heaviest brunt, including layoffs and furloughs affecting staff of color disproportionately.
We hope you’ll spread the word today about the speakout and plan to watch tonight. The speakout will be co-hosted by Donna Murch and Chenjerai Kumanyika, and you’ll hear from a host of colleagues, including Walton Johnson of Africana Studies, faculty members Nicole Fleetwood and Carter Mathes, counselors from the Rutgers Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF), and the president of the Rutgers University Student Assembly Nicholas LaBelle.
Our stand for racial justice doesn’t end on Wednesday. Later this fall, our union will introduce a new initiative: the Rutgers AAUP-AFT Freedom School to facilitate collaboration among our members, students and their families, the Coalition of Rutgers Unions, and the larger communities of Newark, New Brunswick, and Camden in which our campuses reside. Like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s Freedom School, for which our new outreach effort is named, our goal is to foster political collaboration, community building, and shared values among faculty, staff, students, medical personnel, and other CRU workers in ways that will inform our current struggles for racial and economic justice.
We have also proudly supported a solidarity initiative led by local unions across the country to commit the labor movement to supporting the Movement for Black Lives.
To get involved in these efforts, please contact any of us at [email protected] But for today, please help your union spread the word so we have the largest possible turnout to our Speakout on Black Lives tonight at 7 p.m at the Zoom link below.
Topic: Speakout for Black Lives
Time: September 8, 2020, 7:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting at this link:
Meeting ID: 883 7795 3451
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Todd, Becky, and Donna
Todd Wolfson, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Rebecca Givan, Vice President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Donna Murch, Executive Council member, People of Color Caucus Chair, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
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