This episode is a panel discussion of the contradictions of anti-racist work in the University, with a particular focus on race, class, and contingency. The panel addresses the place institutions of higher education occupy in our racialized class society, assesses the official “anti-racist” strategies universities promote, and highlights the anti-racist work of on- and off-campus activism within the context of austerity, corporatization, and adjunctification.
Panelists include Southern California and community college-based adjunct union organizer Bobbi-Lee Smart (as co-host), as well as Philadelphia-based rank-and-file faculty and community organizer Wende Marshall, contingent faculty scholar of anti-racism Damon Dees, and Seattle-based adjunct activist Benedict Stork.
Among the questions considered:
What good are public statements against racism issued from institutions ensconced in a racialized system of inequality?
How can an academy historically and presently structured by and operating through exploitation hope to address systemic racism?
How are corporate elites and neoliberal administrators (and even some faculty) responding to the current crisis in ways that perfume rather than uproot the fundamental inequalities that run through and around our colleges and universities?
What would truly egalitarian, anti-racist praxis look like for those based in higher ed ?
What are the structures of colleges and universities that need to be transformed if we are to ever realize the universalist promise of the University?
Can the University itself be reformed apart from a larger change in society?
How can and how must academic activists and organizers transform ourselves and our organizations in order to make anti-racism and social equality more than virtue signaling and corporate rhetoric?
How so might contingency itself create opportunities for organizing the increasingly precarious faculty majority--on campus and off--in ways that reconnect us to communities and struggles that for too long have been locked out of the official agenda of academic politics?