As scholar-activists of Black Studies—a field born out of a Black radical tradition committed to global struggles for liberation, and unyielding freedom dreaming—we express deep concern for the future of academic freedom, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly at UCSB, as well as for the well-being of Black, Indigenous, People of Color, Trans, and Queer students, staff, and faculty on our campus. Created in response to student activism and faculty advocacy, the Multicultural Center (MCC)—which host nearly 30 social justice events each year—was founded in 1987 to combat institutionalized antiblackness, racism, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and other structures of oppression on campus. To be sure, the MCC has been a critical site for naming and resisting intersectional injustice in our campus community and around the globe. As such, it is aligned with so much of what we do in our teaching, scholarship, university service, and broader praxes of decolonization. The MCC’s temporary closure deprives multiple campus communities of a public intellectual space in an increasingly hostile and restricted academic environment. 

The UCSB administration’s closure of the MCC and its social media adds to a deeply troubling series of recent actions by the University that demonstrate a lack of leadership during a precarious moment in American higher education. These actions include, but are not limited to, the Regents’ proposed policy regulating and censoring University Administrative Websites; UCSB’s proposed policy on “Major Events,” which would allow the administration to restrict the scope of academic events and bring in police forces we know to be dangerous to Black, Indigenous, People of Color, trans, and queer students, staff, and faculty; and UC’s insidious refusal to call for a ceasefire amidst a genocidal war costing thousands of lives and causing a gut wrenching humanitarian crisis, not unlike the long arc of antiblackness that has altered Black lives and the formation of families spanning centuries and the globe. The closure of the MCC entails the cancellation and displacement of multiple events organized to open conversations about political and gendered violence, as well as to support students’ development of empowered public voices. These event cancellations, in conjunction with the proposed policies described above, signal a threat to BIPOC, queer, and trans students’, staff’s, and faculty’s ability to engage in free and public intellectual activity both in person and virtually.

In protest of UCSB's failure to respect academic freedom, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly, we, scholar-activists in Black Studies, call for a day-long voluntary interruption of activities on Thursday, March 7. This day of interruption will be followed by work slowdowns, a tradition of day-to-day resistance employed on plantations during chattel slavery, which signal our refusal to commit extra labor to an institution that has not sufficiently demonstrated its commitment to all freedoms. We demand that the University provide a safe environment for BIPOC, trans, and queer students, staff, and faculty to research, speak, learn, gather, and contribute to our campus community.

In solidarity and in struggle,

A concerned group of Black Studies faculty


I AM A MAN: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1960 ... Photo Source: I AM A MAN: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1960-1970 (Richard B. Russell LIbrary for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia)

Audre Lorde