We Will Not Be Silenced!

“Your silence will not protect you.”

― Audre Lorde

The battle for academic freedom at our nation’s universities has been going on for decades, reaching its most repressive stage during the McCarthy era. Due to the rise of the so-called Alt-Right, progressive academics are once again under attack. Professors teaching about Standing Rock, for instance, have had proposed courses rejected. Others have had contracts cancelled in response to tweets in support of the Palestinian struggle or statements against white supremacy. Black Lives Matter experts have had to endure threats from Alt-Right trolls, and whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning have had invitations revoked at prestigious universities.

We cannot allow university administrators to continue to collude with Alt-Right bigots to silence our voices. We cannot allow them to undermine the education of our youth who depend on our commitment to critical thinking in the classroom. It is necessary, then, to gather up the courage — despite threats to our well-being and jobs — and refuse to be silenced. We must stand up and fight back.

Academic Freedom Week will be a week that embraces a politics of resistance. We recognize that the university is simultaneously a place of colonialism and anti-colonial struggle, of white supremacy and anti-racist action, of misogyny and resistance against patriarchy and heteronormativity. Just like our lives in general, the university is a battlefield where we are pitted against those who seek to lull us into narrow-minded bigotry, against those who seek to police the way we think and act, and against those who seek to put us where they claim we belong.

It is for this reason that we bring together a range of academics and activists who have been, because of their ideas and activism, assailed and silenced by universities across the country. In giving them a platform, we hope to call attention to the ongoing attempts to destroy academic freedom and help chart out new ways to defend an outspoken, progressive politics.

Recent Posts

Forget pinkwashing, it’s brownwashing time: self-Orientalizing on the US campus

Gil Hochberg on November 28, 2017 – Mondoweiss

“The political and intellectual history of modernity,” writes historian Robert Orsi, “is also always a religious history.” However, as significant and diverse recent scholarship is now bringing to light, narratives around the political, intellectual, and religious history of modernity often serve not only to illuminate the past, but also to obscure it through the authorization of specific forms of experience and knowledge.

The Politics of Race Course Titles

Aptly titled courses and robust descriptions teach students a valuable lesson in speaking uncomfortable racial truths to white power, argues Ted Thornhill.

By Ted Thornhill – April 6, 2018 – Inside Higher Ed
Race and Ethnic Relations. Excited? Neither is anyone else. I certainly wasn’t when I took a course by this title as an undergraduate sociology major. And I don’t imagine my students were intrigued by Race Relations, the title of the first race course I taught as a graduate student about a decade ago.

Those courses have titles and descriptions that are about as compelling as particle board furniture instructions. They belie the complex and vital content we teach in them, and they contribute to promoting and buttressing inaccurate beliefs about racial matters. So why do so many of us continue to teach race courses with these types of names? It needn’t be this way.  

First they censor Palestine…

Ali Abunimah – 25 October 2017 –  Electronic Intifada

Three students at Barnard College, which is affiliated with New York’s Columbia University, are facing punishment for protesting a speech earlier this month by a notorious white supremacist.

Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, the British Islamophobe and English Defence League founder who goes by the pseudonym Tommy Robinson, spoke to Columbia students via Skype on 10 October.

According to campus newspaper The Columbia Spectator, dozens of students interrupted Robinson’s speech and held up signs, while 250 more protested outside the venue.

Almost 5,000 people have signed a petition supporting the students, and mobilizations to defend them are being organized on campus.

Why I teach a course called ‘White Racism’

Ted Thornhill – The Conversation 

February 1, 2018

The need for students to learn about racism in American society existed long before I began teaching a course called “White Racism” at Florida Gulf Coast University earlier this year.

I chose to title my course “White Racism” because I thought it was scholarly and succinct, precise and powerful.

But others saw it differently. Many white Americans (and some people of color) became upset when they learned about this course.

Thousands took to social media and far right news sites and racist blogs to attack the course and me personally.

Some 150 of these individuals sent me hateful and threatening messages.

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