Scholar Strike Aims to Highlight Racial Injustice Through Digital Teach-In

On Sept. 8 and 9, as part of an inaugural Scholar Strike, U.S. professors are withdrawing from classrooms to engage in accessible, digital education surrounding anti-Blackness and police brutality.

The movement—inspired by the WNBA and other athletic boycotts—is spearheaded by humanities professors Anthea Butler of the University of Pennsylvania and Kevin Gannon of Grand View University.

Participating professors are contributing five- to 15-minute YouTube videos to the Scholar Strike’s channel, each of which discusses a different aspect of racial injustice or police violence. Professors in Canada will be following suit on Sept. 9 and 10, though the original dates for the American strike were chosen thanks to their proximity to Labor Day.

“We are indeed labor, as are the professional athletes who went on strike last week,” Butler and Gannon wrote in an article for Academe Blog. “And, as U.S. history shows us, there are times when the most powerful way that workers can force an issue or work for change is to withhold what others see as their most important feature: their labor.”

Professors are also sharing resources on social media in hopes of reaching those who are uneducated on the history of anti-Blackness.

Although they emphasize the value of physically boycotting classes, the movement’s leaders recognize that not all educators have the career stability necessary to participate in the strike. With 73 percent of professors not on the tenure track, non-striking professors are still encouraged to teach those in their immediate communities about racism’s prevalence during class time.


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“It is a misconception to think that cniversities are not engaged in the world around them. Much of the time, they are shaping the cities and towns that they are in, for good and for ill,” Butler and Gannon stated in a CNN article.

“The truth of the matter is, our colleges and universities also suffer from the problems of racism, policing and violence. We are not immune from the issues that are going on in the nation.”

Professors who wish to participate in the digital “teach-in” should email scholarstrike@gmail.com, or fill out the form on their website to register strike-related events. Although the strike lists no specific demands, the leaders see their teach-in as a call for racial equity, advocacy and education on the subject of police brutality.

“For me, it seemed like a good way to show solidarity, to pause, reflect and sit with the heaviness of this moment,” Bolin fellow Brittany Meché of Williams College said. “Strikes have been invaluable in the fight for social justice… because the act of collectively withholding labor reveals the fundamental interconnectedness of society, the ways that multiple forms of work scaffold the many aspects of our lives.”

How to Support the #ScholarStrike:

  • Watch the Scholar Strike teach-in’s lectures to learn about racial injustice from committed educators.
  • Professors can contribute content to the YouTube teach-in by emailing scholarstrike@gmail.com.
  • Join in the social media blitz by adding #ScholarStrike to posts containing resources on anti-racism.
  • Browse a compilation of powerful lectures, documentaries, speeches and articles on the Scholar Strike website.

“We can no longer sit quietly amidst state violence against communities of color. It is time for the academic community to do more than teach classes and offer reading lists on racism, policing, violence, and racial injustice,” the organizers wrote. “It is time for us to pause the endless meetings on diversity and inclusion, disrupt our institutions’ routines, look outward to the American public, and share our dismay, disgust, and resolve.”


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About

Sophie Dorf-Kamienny is a Ms. Research Fellow and former Editorial Intern. She recently graduated high school and is completing a gap year before attending Tufts University.