“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.